Lance Armstrong could be stripped of his seven Tour de France
titles but won't likely face criminal charges or fines in a probe
of new doping allegations, a sports law professor said Thursday.
The Washington Post was among media outlets that reported
Wednesday that the US Anti-Doping Agency (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."
"All of his Tour de France victories would be at stake, he could
lose them. However he's not in any danger of being charged
criminally or having to pay any fines, based on what we know,"
Vermont University sports law professor Michael McCann told AFP.
"This is more about a case that goes to his reputation rather
than any type of criminal wrongdoing," McCann said in an
McCann noted that USADA, which is investigating Armstrong,
"doesn't have the power of indictment."
And, he said, the US justice department is unlikely to reopen its
two-year probe that ended in February without any criminal
charges being brought. "I think that moment passed."
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
According to the Post, USADA claims it has witnesses to the fact
that Armstrong and five former cycling team associates --
including Italian doctor Michele Ferrari and cycling team manager
Johan Bruyneel -- engaged in a doping conspiracy from 1998-2011.
Armstrong, however, said the witnesses cited by USADA were the
same ones who spoke to federal investigators previously.
McCann said USADA was pressed to launch its investigation now
because "the statute of limitations was going to run out for the
US anti-doping agency to try to punish him (Armstrong)."
"That's why it's happening now," he said. Armed with new
information, USADA also probably "feels that its case is the
strongest right now."
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France from 1999-2005 and used his
fame to fuel his charitable work for cancer awareness, has never
But he has been publicly accused by former teammates Floyd Landis
and Tyler Hamilton -- both admitted drugs cheats -- of doping.