By Tom Degun

Lance Armstrong_08-08-12August 8 - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has backed the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to investigate seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong for taking banned performance-enhancing drugs despite International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid calling for his organisation to handle the case.

The head of cycling's international governing body sent a letter to USADA calling for it to hand over the investigation of the case involving Armstrong (pictured above) and five other members of his US Postal Service team and threatened to take the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if it did not.

"In the meantime and until further notice, UCI denies USADA any authority to act or proceed on the basis of ADR (anti-doping regulations) or any other rule of the UCI or otherwise on behalf of UCI and/or USA Cycling," the letter read.

"We inform USA Cycling accordingly."

But WADA has come out in strong defence of USADA, calling on McQuaid to reconsider his stance.

Pat McQuaidPat McQuaid wanted his organisation, the UCI, to handle the Lance Armstrong doping case as opposed to the USADA

"WADA has followed with interest the recent communication from the UCI to the USADA questioning the latter's jurisdiction in the pending case against Lance Armstrong and five other individuals involved with former American cycling teams," a statement read.

"WADA can confirm that it has written to UCI President Pat McQuaid stating that it disagrees with the comments made by the UCI in its statement of August 4, and that as the independent agency responsible for leading the fight against doping in sport WADA has urged the UCI to reconsider its position and provide all support to USADA in the conduct of this case, including all documents required by them."

In a letter to the UCI, WADA director general David Howman explained that article 15.3 of the WADA Code gives USADA the jurisdiction to bring a case against the six individuals involved, and that the UCI had misinterpreted its own rules in light of the Code.

Article 15.3 also states that the Anti-Doping Organisation (ADO) "which discovered the violation" must have results management authority, and not the ADO which discovered the first shred of evidence which then led to the discovery of violations.

The letter also highlighted the fact that as a signatory to the Code, USADA has adopted in its protocols substantive anti-doping rules from the Code, as has the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), the umbrella body of both USA Cycling and USA Triathlon under which Armstrong competed.

It was also pointed out that there is no provision within the Code that allows the UCI to interfere with the USADA case based on the UCI's own rules.

Floyd LandisAmerican cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping

The letter also confirmed that WADA regularly reviews USADA's processes and has consistently found it to be compliant with the Code, and that the UCI has in the past been satisfied with USADA's results management and its due process, citing the cases of Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

Howman adds that nowhere in the Code is an ADO required to "turn over its witnesses and evidence in advance of the arbitration process", as the UCI claimed in its letters.

Armstrong has continually denied the claims, saying that the investigation is a conspiracy to discredit him.

"I have been notified that USADA, an organisation largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try to strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned," said the 40-year-old in a recent statement.

"Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge."

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