WADA: Armstrong stance raises questions on charges
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey says Lance Armstrong's decision not to contest doping charges against him was an admission that the allegations "had substance in them.''
Fahey told The Associated Press on Friday that he was certain the United States Anti-Doping Agency acted properly in its investigation of the seven-time Tour de France champion.
"I am confident and WADA is confident that the USADA acted within the WADA code, and that a court in Texas also decided not to interfere,'' Fahey said in a telephone interview. "They now have the right to apply a penalty that will be recognized by all WADA code countries around the world.''
The 40-year-old Armstrong, speaking Thursday from his hometown of Austin, Texas, said he was innocent, but had decided against fighting the USADA because he was weary of the prolonged legal dispute. The USADA said it would impose a lifetime ban on Armstrong, and planned to strip him of the seven Tour titles he won from 1999-2005.
Armstrong sued the USADA in Austin in an attempt to block the case, but a judge threw it out on Monday, siding with USADA despite questioning the agency's pursuit of the American cyclist in his retirement.
Fahey said Armstrong now must live with the consequences of his decision not to continue fighting allegations against him.
"He had a right to contest the charges. He chose not to,'' Fahey said. "The simple fact is that his refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them. Under the rules, penalties can now be imposed.''
The International Cycling Union (UCI) was expected to make an announcement of its stance on Friday. It had backed Armstrong's legal challenge to USADA's authority.
When asked whether USADA had the authority to strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles, Fahey replied: "Olympic medals and titles are for other agencies to decide, not WADA.''
Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, said Armstrong would be hit with a lifetime ban on Friday. Under the WADA Code, he could lose other awards, event titles and cash earnings, and the International Olympic Committee might look at the bronze medal he won in the 2000 Games.
In Lausanne, Switzerland early Friday, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the IOC would have to consider decisions made by USADA and the UCI "before deciding its next steps.''
Armstrong said in his statement Thursday that USADA's investigation was an "unconstitutional witch hunt.''
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, `Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now,'' Armstrong said.
"I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today - finished with this nonsense.''
AP sports writers Jim Vertuno from Austin, Texas, and Graham Dunbar from Lausanne, Switzerland, contributed to this story.