Former world cycling ace Lance Armstrong has been formally re-charged with taking drugs to enhance his performance by officials at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The seven-time Tour De France champion, who once dated rocker Sheryl Crow, has repeatedly denied reports linking him to drug use, but the new charges could force the cancer survivor to give up some of his cycling medals.
In a report obtained by The Washington Post, blood samples Armstrong gave in 2009 and 2010 were allegedly consistent with an illegal, performance-enhancing drug.
Earlier this year (12), U.S. Justice Department officials ended a two-year investigation into claims Armstrong had used drugs he shouldn't have during his 25-year athletic career.
The cyclist, who quit the sport to become a triathlete, has never failed a drug test.
Armstrong was notified of the new charges in a 15-page letter, which effectively bans him from competing in official sporting events, including triathlons, until he is cleared of the charges.
In a strongly worded response, posted on his website, the former cyclist writes, "I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, 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.
"These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity.
"Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA's malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play."
He states, "I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence."