By Tom Degun

Lance Armstrong_with_Sydney_2000_bronze_medallist1November 2 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has opened an investigation into the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in a move that could ultimately see the American stripped of the time trial bronze medal he won at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The IOC has an eight-year statute of limitation for changing Olympic results and stripping medals from doping offenders, which has now expired in Armstrong's case.

But the IOC could potentially find ways around this, with some experts suggesting that the statute of limitation was interrupted through Armstrong lying about doping.

The move from the IOC comes after the International Cycling Union (UCI) stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles last month after deciding not to challenge the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) ruling.

Armstrong could be one of several riders to be under threat from the IOC investigation, although the Olympic governing body will not take any action until the UCI independent commission publishes its report on the issue.

The commission will be announced by the UCI this month and publish its report and recommendations no later than June 1 next year.

"The IOC has taken note of the UCI's decision and welcomes all measures that will shed light on the full extent of this episode and allow the sport to reform and to move forward," said an IOC statement.

"We await the findings of the independent commission which will look into the UCI's role, and the recommendations they will make to ensure a healthy future for cycling.

"The IOC will now immediately start the process concerning the involvement of Lance Armstrong, other riders and particularly their entourages with respect to the Olympic Games and their future involvement with the Games."

Abraham Olano_02-11-12If Lance Armstrong is stripped of his Olympic bronze medal it could be reallocated Spain’s Abraham Olano, who finished fourth in the Sydney 2000 time trial race

After USADA ruled that Armstrong's United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen", the 41-year-old Texan has had all of his results from August 1, 1998 deleted from the record book except for his Sydney 2000 podium spot.

Should Armstrong ultimately be stripped of his Olympic medal, Spain's Abraham Olano, who finished fourth in the Sydney 2000 road race, will claim bronze.

Meanwhile, Armstrong's American compatriot Levi Leipheimer is also under threat of losing his Olympic medal.

Leipheimer is was one of 11 former teammates whose evidence to USADA helped bring Armstrong down but his admission to doping in the case saw him given a six-month suspension just four years after claiming bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

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