WASHINGTON — Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will have plenty of time to focus on the doping charges he now faces because they have ended his bid to compete in the Ironman World Championships.
Armstrong has been banned from the Ironman event on June 24 in Nice, France, and all other World Triathlon Corporation events because he is the subject of an open investigation, as confirmed by the US Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday.
The US Justice Department spent two years investigating Armstrong and did not indict him on any charges.
Armstrong, who had been in France training, has denied all doping allegations and he has until June 22 to answer the latest charges in writing.
An independent arbitration panel would eventually consider evidence for and against Armstrong in a case that likely would wind up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
But that means Armstrong is unlikely to be done with the matter before the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on October 13, an event which was already gearing up for Armstrong's bid to challenge the sport's top stars.
On Armstrong's website, the link to bid on a chance to race with Armstrong in Kailua-Kona is now flanked by links to Armstrong's statement in response to USADA's charges that threaten to strip his Tour de France titles.
"I have never doped," Armstrong said in his statement. "These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity."
The top bidder for a chance to compete alongside Armstrong put down $40,000 and more than a week remains to bid, but at this stage it's unlikely Armstrong will be there to make good on his plans.
"I guess nvr tested positive is not enough," Kuala Lumpur's Chan Jer Ping posted on his Twitter page in reaction to the latest charges against Armstrong.
More and more, negative doping tests are not being considered sufficient evidence to a skeptical public, especially in the wake of former US track star Marion Jones making the same defense only to later admit to doping for years.
"Get em Lance," tweeted Ricky Berens, who was on the 2008 US Olympic 4x200m freestyle relay that also included Michael Phelps.
"I stand w/Lance," tweeted Jake Castonia, a Maine man whose Twitter picture is of him in a triathlete. "In my experience, guys who are guilty lawyer up and shut up. Lance loudly and firmly proclaims innocence. Fight them Lance!"
USADA claims Armstrong and others were part of a doping scheme that could go as far back as 1996, although doping charges typically have an eight-year statute of limitations and Armstrong's Tour de France wins came from 1999-2005.
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