Cyclist Lance Armstrong faces criminal charges in Spain for his use of performance enhancing drugs. Spanish authorities are investigating whether Lance Armstrong committed doping offences while he was cycling in Spain as part of the U.S. Postal Service cycling team.
The Daily Mail reports that under Spanish law, it is not a crime for an athlete to use performance enhancing drugs for their own personal use, but doping use is a crime if the authorities can prove “trafficking, distribution and commercialisation of doping drugs.” Punishment can be up to two years in prison and up to 400,000 euros in fines.
Armstrong lived in Girona, Spain for several years during the height of his career. His former teammate Floyd Landis told ABC News that he monitored Armstrong’s ‘blood fridge’ to make sure the temperature stayed consistent while Armstrong was away with singer Sheryl Crow in 2004. Landis admitted to doping in 2006 and was one of the first people to publicly accuse Armstrong of cheating to achieve his seven Tour de France wins.
Ana Munoz, the director of Spain’s anti-doping authority, said in a German television interview, “What I can tell you so far is that we are following up on the Armstrong case.” He added, “Not only because we were involved in the investigation back then but also because we are really interested that every person, Spanish or not, who has committed a crime in our country be prosecuted.”
The investigation is ongoing in multiple regions including Alicante, Valencia, Girona and Tenerife. The investigation is currently in a ‘very active and sensitive’ phase. In the past Spain has been perceived as easy on doping offences. Spain hopes to change this image as it bids for the 2020 Olympics.
The Spanish investigation comes soon after the U.S. Anti Doping Agency’s (USADA) own investigation. Last year the USADA released a detailed report on Armstrong’s seven Tour de France teams and stripped him of the titles and banned him from competing. The report accused Armstrong of heading an intricate doping ring and pressuring other cyclists to participate.
Although he had denied using drugs for years, Armstrong admitted to doping and using performance enhancing drugs during an interview at his Texas home with talk show host Oprah Winfrey last January.
Armstrong is currently facing several legal challenges from his former teammates and sponsors, including SCA Promotions who seek to recover more than $12 million in bonuses.