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3 Armstrong associates get lifetime USADA bans

  • In this Feb. 22, 2009 file photo, Lance Armstrong prepares for the final stage of the Tour of California cycling race in Rancho Bernardo, Calif. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is bringing doping charges against the seven-time Tour de France winner, questioning how he achieved those famous cycling victories. Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, could face a lifetime ban from the sport if he is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. He maintained his innocence, saying: "I have never doped." (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

With Lance Armstrong still digging in for a legal fight, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Tuesday issued lifetime sports bans to three former staff members and consultants on Armstrong's winning Tour de France teams for doping violations.

Luis Garcia del Moral was a team doctor; Michele Ferrari was a consulting doctor; and Jose "Pepe" Marti (team trainer) worked for Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel squads. All had been accused by USADA of participating in a vast doping conspiracy on those teams during part or all of Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories from 1999-2005.

Armstrong also has been charged and has declared his innocence. Armstrong wants a federal judge to block USADA's case against him from going forward and is expected to refile a lawsuit within days. An Armstrong spokesman declined immediate comment on the USADA bans issued Tuesday.

Under USADA rules, Moral, Marti and Ferrari had until Monday to challenge the allegations in arbitration or ask for a five-day extension. If they did not respond, USADA could impose sanctions.

Although none lives in the United States, USADA says the ban blocks them from participating in any sport that falls under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

"The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity," said Travis Tygart, chief executive of USADA.

There's been no indication from USADA that any of the three men — who each received the agency's maximum punishment — is cooperating with investigators.

Armstrong was granted his extension while he files his court case. Also charged and granted an extension was Armstrong's former team manager Johan Bruyneel.

Another team doctor, Pedro Celaya, also has been charged and faced the same Monday deadline. A USADA spokeswoman declined to say if Celaya asked for an extension or for his case to go to arbitration.

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