Sports‎ > ‎

D-Day looms for Armstrong but case likely to drag on

posted 21 Oct 2012, 11:31 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Oct 2012, 11:31 ]

The head of the International Cycling UnionPat McQuaid, will respond to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report on Lance Armstrong at a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

BEIJINGCHINA (OCTOBER 12, 2012) (REUTERS) -  The Lance Armstrong doping scandal reaches a decisive day on Monday (October 21) when cycling's governing body announces whether it has ratified the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's sanctions but whatever happens the affair is set to run and run.

International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid will hold a news conference at 1100 GMT on Monday at which he is widely expected to confirm that Armstrong, 41, is banned for life and loses his record seven Tour de France titles.

Last month, McQuaid said the UCI had no reason to appeal against the USADA decision, adding that the ruling body was waiting to read the reasoned decision and case file published after Armstrong elected not to fight the charges.

McQuaid told Reuters in Beijing on October 12: "The UCI has received the dossier two days ago, a thousand pages, and so our lawyers are studying that at the moment and we have 21 days to come up with a response. So we will do that and it would be wrong of me to second guess or pre-empt what our lawyers might decide, so I'd wait until then. The UCI will wait until that work has been done and then the UCI will make a statement."

Armstrong has stayed silent on the USADA report, released last week.

The report is a 1,000 page document which shows, the Agency says, that Armstrong took part in a doping scheme on his way to his unrivalled success on the Tour from 1999-2005.

The report accused Armstrong, as head of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, of running "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

It included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders, who described years of performance drug use.

The only statement Armstrong has made since the report was released was during last Friday's (October 19) Livestrong charity function in Texas, where he described a "difficult couple of weeks."

"It's been an interesting couple of's been a difficult couple of weeks, for me, for my family, for my friends, for this foundation," Armstrong said.

"I get asked a lot, people say, 'man how you doing?' and I say, and I say this every time, and I mean it, I say I've been better...but I've also been worse."

He added that the allegations would not deter him or the charity from continuing its work.

"Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to me, to all of us, we will not be deterred, we will move forward and we will continue to serve the 28 million people around the world that need us the most."

If the UCI rules on Monday that USADA has failed to make a case, the sport's governing body will take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Should Armstrong lose his Tour titles, race director Christian Prudhomme has already said he does not want them handed to anyone else given that the era was tainted by doping.

The UCI, however, is in an uncomfortable position because the USADA report said Armstrong told his then team mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton he made a positive drugs test at the Tour of Switzerland "go away" with a payment to the UCI in 2001.

McQuaid has said Armstrong made a $100,000 donation to the UCI in 2002 but "vehemently denied", according to the report, that it was part of a covering up of a positive test.

Armstrong said he was unfazed by the USADA report but some of his long-time partners have been, with Nike Inc dropping the disgraced cyclist over the scandal on Wednesday.

On the same day, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong foundation, although he remained on the board of the association he launched in 1997 to fight cancer.

Testicular cancer survivor Armstrong was also dropped by beer maker Anheuser-Busch, and, according to reports by ESPN, by Trek Bicycles and the energy drink maker FRS.

Speculation over a confession by Armstrong has been growing although he could face perjury charges if he admitted to doping during his career.

The Texan is also likely to face financial consequences if the UCI ratifies the USADA decision.

Armstrong's lawyer, Tim Herman, told Reuters on October 12: "While USADA has gone back 17 years, we are confident that the UCI will review this matter and apply the statute of limitations the way that it was written and the way that it is supposed to be applied and what they do with the allegations, let's say from 2004 forward, we don't know but hopefully they will exert their jurisdiction."

Meanwhile, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, which lost $1 million in an out-of-court settlement following a libel suit, could sue the American.

Armstrong mentor Johan Bruyneel's case, however, will not be resolved on Monday because the Belgian has chosen to fight the charges in front of an arbitration panel, possibly later this year.

Doctor Pedro Celaya, one of the five people charged by USADA, has also opted for arbitration.

Doctors Luis Garcia del MoralPepe Marti and Michele Ferrari, who were also charged by USADA, have been banned for life.

Former Armstrong team mates who testified were given reduced bans.

Those still active will be back in time for the 2013 Tour de France, whose route will be unveiled on Wednesday (October 23) as cycling's wheel continues to turn with or without Armstrong.

But the ripple effect of such a scandal on the sport of cycling is already in motion with Rabobank withdrawing its long running sponsorship last Friday (October 19).

"The key reason for us was after all kinds of new facts came to the table. The USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) report that was publicised a few weeks ago came up with so many new facts, not only regarding structural usage of doping amongst riders but on top of the involvement of many official institutions, we said well this is basically the end, we have to stop," Rabobank financial director Erik Breukink said.