Lance Armstrong, in a scene similar to a Spaghetti Western, duelled with the “bad guys” and avoided charges from US Federal doping investigation. Over night, he surveyed the damage, blew his gun’s smoking barrel and issued a statement.
“I am gratified,” the 40-year-old Texan said in a statement regarding the closed investigation. He added that he looks forward to continuing his life as a father and an athlete, and a cancer fighter “without this distraction.”
Fans wondered this morning just how Armstrong beat the odds, or the “distraction.” Federal agent Jeff Novitzky was on his trail, former team-mates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis confessed to and made accusations of doping, numerous other former US Postal team-mates testified, the French were providing urine samples with EPO and the Italians were linking him to Michele Ferrari via payments in Swiss bank accounts. Just like in those westerns, though, Armstrong looked left and looked right with squinted eyes and then fired.
“It has no effect on my life – zero,” he said in February. In September, he explained, “I’m totally immune to any controversy. I’ve been listening to this stuff for 15 years.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation affected US cyclists Hamilton and Landis. Landis, who won the Tour de France in 2006 and then lost it because he doped, jump-started the investigation. In April 2010, he alleged that in the years he raced with Armstrong’s US Postal team, from 2002 to 2004, he and his team-mates doped. His alleged EPO and testosterone patch use, and blood transfusions.
Landis’ claims “are not even worth getting into,” Armstrong said. “I’m not going to waste your time or my time.”
Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven times from 1999 to 2005. Hamilton helped him with three Tour wins. He confessed last May that he doped. He also said that Armstrong took EPO and testosterone, and transfused his blood.
Fans believed that something must have been going on in those US Postal/Discovery Channel years. Besides, it came ahead of the Operación Puerto doping investigation that entangled many of Armstrong’s rivals.
As part of the investigation, Prosecutors subpoenaed former team-mate Yaroslav Popovych, physiologist Allen Lim and friend Stephanie McIlvain.
CBS TV reported that former team-mate George Hincapie testified that he and Armstrong “supplied each other with EPO.”
“Unbelievable,” cycling fans must have thought when reading the news this morning. “How did Armstrong do it? How did he hold them all off?”
Armstrong rode off into the sunset, tweeting LiveSTRONG on @lancearmstrong and antagonising journalists on @juanpelota.
“Is this really how it ends?” you may say when the western ends. “I wonder if they’re going to make a sequel?”
Armstrong is reported to compete in an off-road triathlon on March 18. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will continue investigating him.
“Unlike the US Attorney, USADA’s job is to protect clean sport rather than enforce specific criminal laws,” said Tygart, USADA chief executive. Its investigation is continuing. “We look forward to obtaining the information developed during the federal investigation.”