AUSTIN -- The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is bringing doping charges against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, questioning his victories in those storied cycling races.
Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, could face a lifetime ban from the sport if he is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs.
The story was first reported Wednesday by the Washington Post.
The charges from USADA come just months after federal prosecutors closed a two-year criminal investigation of Armstrong without indicting him.
Armstrong maintained his innocence, saying:
"I have been notified that USADA, an organization 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 and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned. These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA’s malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.
I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence."
Since retiring from cycling, Armstrong has started to compete in Ironman triathlons. Guilty or not, the recent charges have temporarily banned him from competing. If they are found to be true, he could be stripped of all tour titles.