Ironman 70.3 Hawaii Winner Investigated for Doping
by Josh Pacheco
Less than two weeks ago, Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line before approximately 1,600 other triathletes at the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (Honu), putting him one step closer to qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in October.
That goal has been put in serious jeopardy after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) sent a letter to Lance Armstrong and other individuals, claiming that they will be formally charging Armstrong on allegations of doping that dates as far back as 1996. The story was first reported by The Washington Post. This action comes four months after federal prosecutors failed to produce charges against Armstrong in an investigation that lasted two years.
Armstrong retired from cycling in 2011, where he won seven Tour de France titles, many of which have fallen under the cloud of doping scrutiny. He immediately began competing in triathalons, participating in Xterra and Ironman 70.3 events. This year, Armstrong captured Ironman 70.3 wins in Florida and Kona.
Despite winning the Kona event, Armstrong had not yet qualified for the Ironman World Championships in October. Ironman officials said he was scheduled to run the Ironman 140.6 event in France in a few weeks, hoping for a strong finish in that event to get a return trip to the Big Island. The USADA’s investigation into Armstrong has put that goal in jeopardy, as the World Triathalon Corporation (WTC) has suspended Armstrong from competing in its events while the investigation is underway. The WTC organizes Ironman, Ironman 70.3, and 5150 series races.
“WTC has been notified that USADA has initiated its Anti-Doping Review Board Process against Lance Armstrong to determine if there is sufficient evidence of doping during his cycling career to bring forward charges of a non-analytical nature,” said the triathalon company in a prepared statement. “Our rules, as stated in the WTC Professional Athlete Agreement and Waiver, dictate an athlete is ineligible to compete during an open investigation. Armstrong is therefore suspended from competing in WTC-owned and licensed races pending further review.”
In the USADA letter, obtained by The Washington Post, the agency accused Armstrong of the following violations, among others:
- Use, or attempted use, of banned substances, including Erythropoieten (EPO), blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids, and masking agents.
- Possession of banned substances, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids, and masking agents, as well as equipment to take performance enhancing drugs.
- Trafficking of EPO, testosterone, and corticosteroids.
- Administration, or attempted administration, of EPO, testosterone, and cortisone to others.
- Aiding, encouraging, and covering up anti-doping rule violations.
- “Aggravating circumstances” that encompass a period of doping greater than standard sanctions.
Armstrong took to his website, lancearmstrong.com, to immediately deny the allegations, while questioning the integrity of the USADA:
“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.”
Armstrong’s statement continued by attempting to explain why he is a clean athlete.
“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.”