USADA claims ‘cooperative’ Armstrong might have kept five Tour de France titles

Sydney: United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) executive Travis Tygart has claimed banned cycling legend Lance Armstrong might have kept five of his seven Tour de France titles had he cooperated in the anti-doping investigation, which alleges the American is a drug cheat.

Tygart said Armstrong might have been protected by an eight-year statute of limitations had he worked with the investigators.

Armstrong maintains he is innocent, but has opted not to fight the USADA in a formal court setting, because he argues it is a ‘witch-hunt’.

Armstrong’s decision not to contest the charges prompted USADA to punish him with a lifetime ban and stripped him of all cycling results since 1998, including seven Tour de France wins from 1999-2005.

USADA said Armstrong and five others deliberately concealed their doping for almost a decade.

“If Armstrong had come in and been truthful, then the evidence might have been that the statute (of limitations) should apply,” Tygart said.

“That would have been fine by us.” Tygart said, confirming that would have meant USADA stripping Armstrong of only two of his seven titles - 2004 and ``05.

Tygart also said Armstrong`s lifetime ban could be revisited if he comes clean about doping in cycling.

Tygart added there would have been a reduction in Armstrong`s punishment “if he would have been truthful and willing to meet to help the sport move forward for the good,”

“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,” Tygart said.