by Justin Davis
BELLEGARDE-SUR-VALSERINE, France, July 11, 2012 (AFP) – World cycling chief
Pat McQuaid said Thursday he would maintain his silence over the serious
doping charges swirling around Lance Armstrong until the American authorities
have closed their case.
McQuaid, however, admitted he was baffled with the United States
Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) decision to ban three former Armstrong associates
Armstrong, who is now retired, is fighting to save his reputation and his
seven Tour de France victories after being charged with being part of a major
doping conspiracy by the USADA.
The 41-year-old American, who has steadfastly denied doping, is fighting
the charges and filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the USADA in a bid to
have the investigation quashed.
Hours earlier, Armstrong’s defense appeared to suffer a blow when the USADA
issued life bans against three of his former cycling associates.
Former US Postal doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, Armstrong’s personal trainer
and team consultant Michele Ferrari and coach “Pepe” Marti were banned for
life for what the USADA termed “systematic doping within the team” during
Armstrong’s seven-year reign in 1999-2005.
USADA chief executive officer Travis T. Tygart said the trio had chosen not
to fight the sanctions because it “would only reveal what they already know to
be the truth of their doping activity”.
Although the pressure appears to be mounting on Armstrong, arguably the
world’s most famous cyclist, McQuaid said the UCI could not currently comment.
“It is not because of the seriousness of the case,” McQuaid told AFP in a
telephone call from the Tour de France.
“It would be inappropriate for us to make any comment on the Armstrong case
while the USADA procedure is still ongoing.
“We have no information in our possession about the case. Our hands are
tied while the current procedure is ongoing.”
The Irishman stressed, however, he was baffled by the life bans handed to
Ferrari, Marti and Del Moral — none of whom hold UCI licences to operate
legally within the sport.
USADA chief Tygart said Tuesday: “Permanently banning these individuals
from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next
generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of
McQuaid said: “From the UCI’s point of view we can’t see how these guys can
be sanctioned for life. They are not UCI license holders, so under what
grounds can they be sanctioned?”
Ferrari, Marti and Del Moral are part of a group of six individuals,
including Armstrong, who were accused by USADA in June of being part of the
The two others are Pedro Celaya and Johan Bruyneel, respectively the team
doctor and team manager of the RadioShack team which is currently racing the
Bruyneel, who decided not to come with his team to the Tour de France in
light of USADA’s charges, has denied any wrongdoing.
McQuaid said that since Celaya and Bruyneel are both licence-holders, they
would eventually be subject to the “legal procedures which are in place”.
USADA could strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and impose a
life ban on him if he is found guilty of the charges USADA has brought.
The moves come four months after a two-year US government probe into
Armstrong ended with no criminal charges filed.