By Duncan Mackay

Lance Armstrong_time_trial_Sydney_2000August 29 - Lance Armstrong may be allowed to keep the Olympic bronze medal he won at Sydney in 2000 because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) do not have the power to strip him of it even though he has been found guilty of using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

The cyclist faces the prospect of losing all seven of the Tour de France titles he won in consecutive years between 1999 and 2005 after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) branded him a drugs cheat and banned him for life following his decision not to defend himself against the allegations.

As part of the punishment USADA said that all of Armstrong's results from 1998 would be annulled.

But, under the Olympic Charter, the IOC maintain an eight-year statute of limitations on drug-related offences, which means that they are unable to strip Armstrong of a medal won more than a decade ago.

Lance Armstrong_with_Sydney_2000_bronze_medallistLance Armstrong with the Olympic bronze medal he won at Sydney in 2000 and which he may now be allowed to keep despite being banned for life

The American had finished third in the time trial behind Russia's Viatcheslav Ekimov and Germany's Jan Ullrich, who himself was latter banned for using performance-enhancing drugs.

If the result is allowed to stand, rider set to miss out is Spain's Abraham Olano Manzano, who finished fourth.

A spokesman for the IOC said that they could not comment on the situation until the International Cycling Union (UCI) received the report of its findings from USADA and decided what action to take.

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