Armstrong declines to cooperate with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

  • By Lance Pugmire Los Angeles Times
  • Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:51pm
  • Sports

LOS ANGELES — Lance Armstrong’s interest in cooperating with anti-doping authorities does not include plans to speak to the agency that most thoroughly detailed the transgressions that left him stripped of his seven Tour de France cycling titles.

Armstrong on Wednesday announced through his attorney that he is declining to provide information to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its chief executive, Travis Tygart, who in October released a voluminous report including teammates’ sworn statements of how Armstrong beat anti-doping authorities.

The teammates said Armstrong engaged in a variety of banned or illegal performance-enhancing practices, including blood doping, testosterone and Human Growth Hormone.

Armstrong earlier this year admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he had cheated to win all of his Tour titles and promised to help clean up cycling by cooperating with authorities who could do so.

“Lance is willing to cooperate fully and has been very clear: He will be the first man through the door, and once inside will answer every question, at an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling, an almost exclusively European sport,” Armstrong attorney Tim Herman said in a statement released Wednesday.

“We remain hopeful that an international effort will be mounted, and we will do everything we can to facilitate that result.

“In the meantime, for several reasons, Lance will not participate in USADA’s efforts to selectively conduct American prosecutions that only demonize selected individuals while failing to address the 95 percent of the sport over which USADA has no jurisdiction.”

Armstrong was said by those close to him to have seriously weighed several pros and cons about helping USADA.

He could have been left vulnerable to a reopened federal criminal investigation after the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office closed an earlier probe last year.

He could have provided details that would have swayed the Department of Justice to join a whistle-blower lawsuit against Armstrong that was filed by former teammate Floyd Landis for defrauding former cycling team sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service.

Also, Armstrong faces the prospect of being sued in civil court by several companies and individuals for fueling his Tour titles with banned substances.

Conversely, Armstrong’s cooperation with USADA would have advanced him, public-relations-wise, to fully disclose information about what doctors and sponsors around him knew as he successfully beat the system for years.

In a statement, USADA said, “We have provided Mr. Armstrong several opportunities to assist in our ongoing efforts to clean up the sport of cycling. Following his recent television interview, we again invited him to come in and provide honest information, and he was informed in writing by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that this was the appropriate avenue for him if he wanted to be part of the solution.

“Over the last few weeks he has led us to believe that he wanted to come in and assist USADA, but was worried of potential criminal and civil liability if he did so. Today we learned from the media that Mr. Armstrong is choosing not to come in and be truthful and that he will not take the opportunity to work toward righting his wrongs in sport.

“At this time we are moving forward with our investigation without him and we will continue to work closely with WADA and other appropriate and responsible international authorities to fulfill our promise to clean athletes to protect their right to compete on a drug-free playing field.”

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