Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong appears to have found a friend in Congress to help wage war on his new nemesis, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Armstrong is facing USADA doping charges that threaten to strip him of his Tour titles and ban him for life from elite sports.
People on the inside of the case aren’t the least bit surprised the apparent help is coming from the Wisconsin home of Trek Bicycles, Armstrong’s longtime sponsor.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., Thursday sent a letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to investigate “the use of the roughly $9 million in taxpayer funding given to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).”
USADA is the agency that acts as the nation’s top cop for doping in sports and regularly tests athletes to ensure clean results. It is generally not considered controversial, but is seen as a safeguard for clean competition, working hand in hand with the international group, the World Anti Doping Agency.
In response to Sensenbrenner’s letter, USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said the case against Armstrong “was not brought lightly.”
“The evidence is overwhelming, and were we not to bring this case, we would be complicit in covering up evidence of doping, and failing to do our job on behalf of those we are charged with protecting,” Tygart wrote. “We will reach out to Congressman Sensenbrenner and offer to come in and discuss the process, which is the same in all cases whether it involves high-profile athletes or those who are not.”
Earlier this week, Armstrong attempted to have his USADA case thrown out in federal court – but a judge quickly rejected his claim – singling out harsh, personal attacks on USADA. His legal team has since filed a new lawsuit and is awaiting a hearing.
Also this week, three of Armstrong’s former team doctors and trainers were given lifetime bans by USADA for their roles in running what one source called “one of the worst and deepest doping conspiracies the world has ever seen.”