Lance Armstrong might have retained most of his cycling titles if he had cooperated with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation, USADA head Travis Tygart said Sunday in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.On Friday, USADA hit Armstrong with a lifetime ban and stripped him of all cycling results since 1998, which includes his seven titles in the Tour de France from 1999-2005.
USADA charged that Armstrong used banned drugs and blood transfusions to gain an advantage, and sanctioned him when he declined to fight the case.
The statute of limitations for such charges is eight years, but it can be extended in cases involving a cover-up. USADA determined that Armstrong and others fraudulently concealed their doping, dating to the 1990s.
If Armstrong had “come in and been truthful, then the evidence might have been that the statute (of limitations) should apply,” Tygart says, adding that “would have been fine by us.” Tygart confirmed that would have meant USADA stripping Armstrong of only two of his seven titles, in 2004 and ’05.
Tygart, the agency’s chief executive officer, also says Armstrong’s lifetime ban could be revisited if he comes clean about doping in cycling.
The agency would’ve reduced Armstrong’s punishment “if he would have been truthful and willing to meet to help the sport move forward for the good,” Tygart says. “Of course, this is still possible and we always remain open, because while the truth hurts, ultimately, from what we have seen in these types of cases, acknowledging the truth is the best way forward.”
Armstrong’s attorneys say USADA cannot sanction him—the International Cycling Union (UCI) holds such power, they argue.
Tygart stood by the decision and says the World Anti-Doping Agency and UCI can appeal.
“Unless and until it is appealed and overturned, then under the world rules, it must be imposed,” Tygart said.
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