August 24 - A huge row over who has jurisdiction of Lance Armstrong's career is brewing between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI), the world governing body for cycling, after the American announced he would no longer continue to defend himself against allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
WADA chairman John Fahey claimed that all of his victories, including the seven Tour de France titles, must be "obliterated" but the UCI has warned anti-doping officials in the United States that they must justify their decision first if that is what they decide to do.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) responded by formally banning Armstrong for life and stripping him of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005 after recovering from testicular cancer.
Armstrong, who is now 40, announced earlier today that he would no longer contest the drugs charges levied against him by USADA.
USADA claimed that they had compiled overwhelming evidence against Armstrong.
"Numerous witnesses provided evidence to USADA based on personal knowledge acquired, either through direct observation of doping activity by Armstrong,or through Armstrong's admissions of doping to them that Armstrong used EPO (Erythropoietin), blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and hGH through 1996," they said in a statement.
"Witnesses also provided evidence that Lance Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005.
"Additionally, scientific data showed Mr. Armstrong's use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions during Mr. Armstrong's comeback to cycling in the 2009 Tour de France."
A lawsuit filed by Armstrong to try to force USADA to drop the investigation was thrown out by a US Federal court in Texas on Monday (August 20).
Armstrong claimed USADA was acting beyond its remit and had offered "corrupt inducements" to other riders to testify against him.
He had been given until midnight last night to decide whether to continue fighting USADA's charges.
"He had the right to rip up those charges but he elected not to, therefore the only interpretation in these circumstances is that there was substance in those charges," said Fahey.
"I'm not going to attempt to understand why he's done that...I can only take it as it stands – that it leads only to the conclusion that he is a drug cheat.
"My understanding is that when the evidence is based upon a career that included seven Tour de France wins then all of that becomes obliterated."
Armstrong maintains that he is innocent but said in a statement that he is "finished with this nonsense".
Earlier this year the US Attorney's Office dropped a criminal investigation into whether he used banned performance-enhancing drugs.
"I think that's disappointing," said Fahey.
"He's never gone before a tribunal.
"There's never been a hearing related to this behaviour, so what is he tired of?
"I would have liked to see the accusations, the innuendo, the rumours that have been going round for years tested in an open tribunal and a proper process, whatever the outcome was, so the whole world would have known what the facts were."
But Armstrong claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy and was tired of fighting.
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say: 'Enough is enough'," he said.
"For me, that time is now.
"I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999."
Travis Tygart's, USADA's chief executive, claimed that with Armstrong no longer fighting the allegations he had effectively admitted them and they had no choice but to ban him cycling for life and strip him of his titles and medals, including the bronze medal he won in the time trial at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Armstrong, however, claims the organisation lacks jurisdiction to proceed with this move and he could find a supporter in the UCI President Pat McQuaid.
The governing body wrote to USADA earlier this month telling it to drop the investigation, a move criticised by WADA which backed the American anti-doping organisation.
The UCI claims it should have jurisdiction over Armstrong's case as it was responsible for carrying out doping tests while he competed.
Armstrong never tested positive during his career.
"The UCI notes Lance Armstrong's decision not to proceed to arbitration in the case that USADA has brought against him," the Swiss-based UCI said in a statement.
"The UCI recognises that USADA is reported as saying that it will strip Mr Armstrong of all results from 1998 onwards in addition to imposing a lifetime ban from participating in any sport which recognises the World Anti-Doping Code.
"Article 8.3 of the WADC states that where no hearing occurs the Anti-Doping Organisation with results management responsibility shall submit to the parties concerned [Mr Armstrong, WADA and UCI] a reasoned decision explaining the action taken.
"As USADA has claimed jurisdiction in the case the UCI expects that it will issue a reasoned decision in accordance with Article 8.3 of the Code.
"Until such time as USADA delivers this decision the UCI has no further comment to make."
The latest twist in this story could also endanger Armstrong's self-appointed role as a spokesman on cancer.
Armstrong's former sporting director, Johan Bruyneel, criticised the "unjust process" undertaken by the USADA.
"Today, I'm disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general that things have reached a stage where Lance feels that he has had enough and is no longer willing to participate in USADA's campaign against him," said Bruyneel.
"Lance has never withdrawn from a fair fight in his life so his decision today underlines what an unjust process this has been.
"I hope that it will soon be determined that the case that USADA initiated against me should never have gotten as far as it has."
To read the full USADA judgement click here.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
August 2012: WADA backs USADA to investigate Armstrong doping case despite McQuaid comments
June 2012: Lance Armstrong team-mates rule themselves out of London 2012
June 2012: Armstrong claims he is victim of a "conspiracy" after USADA bring doping charges against him
February 2012: Armstrong claims US Attorney made "right decision" after dropping doping probe
October 2008: Paul Gains finds out what Dick Pound really thinks about Lance Armstrong