The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has brought formal doping charges against cyclist Lance Armstrong.
The Washington Post, which broke the story, reports that as a result "Armstrong has been immediately banned from competition in triathlons."
The Post adds:
"In the 15-page charging letter obtained by The Post, USADA made previously unpublicized allegations against Armstrong, alleging it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions." Armstrong has never tested positive.
"In February, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles ended a nearly two-year investigation into doping allegations involving Armstrong without bringing criminal charges. As part of that investigation, Armstrong's former teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton cooperated with federal agents and publicly accused Armstrong of doping."
Armstrong maintained his innocence in a statement released on his website.
"These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation," Armstrong said. "These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity."
As we've reported, Armstrong has been dogged by allegations of doping for years. In February, federal prosecutors decided to drop its case against Armstrong.
Update at 6:19 p.m. ET. This Is The First Step:
The USADA has issued a statement confirming that a letter was sent to Armstrong and to five other individuals "formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team."
"USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence," the statement reads. "We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence. Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules."
Update at 4:27 p.m. ET. 'Massive Doping Conspiracy':
The Post reports that the charging letter, dated June 12, "further alleges that Armstrong and five former cycling team associates — three doctors including the famous Italian physician Michele Ferrari, one trainer and team manager Johan Bruyneel— engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998-2011, and that "the witnesses to the conduct described in this letter include more than ten (10) cyclists . . ."
The charges, reports the Post, could cost Armstrong his seven Tour de France titles.