WASHINGTON // Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong faces new doping allegations that could see him being stripped of his titles.
Armstrong - who has vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs during his career - angrily described the new charges from the US Anti-Doping Agency as "baseless".
"I have been notified that USADA ... intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned," he said.
Armstrong criticised the agency as "an organisation largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules."
Reports last night claimed the USADA had written to Armstrong saying blood samples taken from him in 2009 and 2010 — when he came out of retirement — were "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions."
Armstrong finished third in the Tour de France in June of 2009 and 23rd in the event in 2010.
Since retiring again from cycling last year, Armstrong has taken up triathlon competition, but USADA's action immediately bans him from competing.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart issued a statement confirming "that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him (Armstrong) and to five additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service professional cycling team.
"These individuals include three team doctors and two team officials.
"This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations," Tygart said.
The next step is for Armstrong to answer the charges, in writing, by June 22.
But last night he claimed the charges were "motivated by spite," adding that the fact that other cyclists weren't charged demonstrates a vendetta by the USADA's against him.
Tygart said USADA's case was supported by evidence, but that until the process was complete, those involved were presumed innocent.
"We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence," Tygart said.
"Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules.
"As in every USADA case, all named individuals are presumed innocent of the allegations unless and until proven otherwise through the established legal process."