Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion, has dodged a bullet. Federal prosecutors have dropped their almost two-year investigation of allegations he used illegal drugs while racing.
“[The US Attorney’s Office] is closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said in a statement released today (Feb. 3).
No reason was given for the dismissal, but typically an investigation is dropped when there’s insufficient evidence.
“This is great news,” said Armstrong’s attorney Mark Fabiani. “Lance is pleased that the United States Attorney made the right decision.”
But Armstrong isn’t totally off the hook. While he won’t face criminal charges, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials insist they’ll continue investigating accusations against Armstrong.
“Unlike the U.S. Attorney, USADA’s job is to protect clean sport rather than enforce specific criminal laws,” said Travis Tygart, the agency’s chief executive. “Our investigation into doping in the sport of cycling is continuing and we look forward to obtaining the information developed during the federal investigation.”
While Lance, 40, was vehemently denied he ever doped, several former associates, including ex-teammate Floyd Landis, have accused Armstrong of doping throughout his career, including his seven Tour de France wins (1999-2005).
In April 2010, Landis made headlines when he accused Armstrong and other pro cyclists, including their former US Postal teammate George Hincapie, of engaging in systematic doping involving the use of blood transfusions, testosterone patches and injections, among others.
Armstrong said his past as a cancer survivor makes him all the more careful about using any kind of drug. In October 1996, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain.
Lance, who underwent chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancer, was given less than a 50% chance of survival when he was first diagnosed in 1996. He has been cancer-free for the past 14 years.
Lance has also repeatedly pointed out that he has never failed a drug test.