Lance Armstrong doping charges have 'substance': WADA

World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey argued Friday that Lance Armstrong's decision not to contest doping charges against him shows the allegations have "substance."
Lance Armstrong faces a lifetime ban from cycling and the loss of seven Tour de France titles. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey says Lance Armstrong's decision not to contest doping charges against him was an admission that the allegations "had substance in them."

Fahey told The Associated Press on Friday that he was certain the United States Anti-Doping Agency acted properly in their investigations of the seven-time Tour de France champion.

"I am confident and WADA is confident that the USADA acted within the WADA code and that a court in Texas also decided not to interfere," Fahey said in a telephone interview. "They now have the right to apply a penalty that will be recognized by all WADA code countries around the world."

On Thursday in his hometown of Austin, Texas, the 40-year-old Armstrong said he was innocent, but had decided against fighting the USADA because he was weary of the prolonged legal dispute. The USADA said it would impose a lifetime ban on Armstrong, and planned to strip him of the seven Tour titles he won from 1999-2005.

Armstrong sued the USADA in Austin in an attempt to block the case, but a judge threw it out on Monday, siding with USADA despite questioning the agency's pursuit of American cyclist in his retirement.

Fahey said Armstrong must now live with the consequences of his decision not to continue fighting allegations against him.

"He had a right to contest the charges," Fahey said. "He chose not to.

"The simple fact is that his refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them. Under the rules, penalties can now be imposed."

The International Cycling Union (UCI) was expected to make an announcement of its stance on Friday. It had backed Armstrong's legal challenge to USADA's authority.

When asked whether USADA had the authority to strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles, Fahey replied: "Olympic medals and titles are for other agencies to decide, not WADA."

Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, said Armstrong would be hit with a lifetime ban on Friday. Under the WADA Code, he could lose other awards, event titles and cash earnings while the International Olympic Committee might look at the bronze medal he won in the 2000 Games.

In Lausanne, Switzerland early Friday, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the IOC would have to consider decisions made by USADA and the UCI "before deciding its next steps."

Armstrong said in his statement Thursday that USADA's investigation was an "unconstitutional witch hunt."

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now.

"I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense."