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The US anti-doping agency (USADA) is going after the doctors. It has “charged” three doctors with possession, trafficking, assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up, attempted administration and the administration of doping materials and methods. The USADA has no authority to enforce criminal charges.

Oh yes, they’ve also charged Lance Armstrong along with the three doctors. Armstrong has spoken out against the USADA via his website.

“These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation.”

In February the Justice Department dropped its case against Armstrong determining that the witnesses involved lacked evidence to convict Armstrong. With criminal proceedings at an end, the USADA is playing its hand.

According to the 15 page USADA document outlining the charges, Armstrong did not cooperate with them.

“An important aspect of USADA’s investigation has been face to face meetings between USADA representatives and riders on the above referenced cycling teams. USADA sought to give the riders an opportunity to be a part of the solution in moving cycling forward by being truthful and honest regarding their past experiences with doping in cycling.”

“With the exception of Mr. Armstrong, every other U. S. rider contacted by USADA regarding doping in cycling agreed to meet with USADA and to truthfully and fully describe their involvement in doping and all doping by others of which they were aware. Mr. Armstrong was likewise contacted through his legal counsel and given the opportunity to meet with USADA to fully and truthfully disclose all knowledge of anti-doping rule violations committed in the sport of cycling. However, Mr. Armstrong declined USADA’s offer.”

The obvious conflict in this face to face approach is that cyclers who have been cheating are now being “truthful and honest regarding their past experiences with doping in cycling.” Lance Armstrong did not comply with the USADA’s request and has now been charged.

The USADA has not charged the cyclists who admitted to cheating. Armstrong explains his frustration, "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."

What consequences do these charges carry? The immediate effect is that Armstrong is banned from all Ironman Triathlon events. He has not been found guilty but is not allowed to compete while the investigation is being carried out.

How long will this investigation last? World Anti-Doping Agency's director general David Howman said, “Remember the BALCO case, how long that took? Well, we could be still talking about this one in 2016.”

In effect, the USADA can ban Armstrong from competition for four years or more without ever proving he cheated.

Armstrong was scheduled to compete in the Ironman France event in Nice. He won’t be participating.

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