It was reported that Lance Armstrong, "is banned from competing in triathlon, a sport that he focused on after retiring from cycling competition," according to USA Today.
"The immediate impact is that Armstrong will be banned from competing in triathlons this summer," declared the Washington Times.
The other Washington paper, the Post, wrote, "As a result of the charges, Armstrong has been immediately barred from competition in triathlons, a sport he took up after his retirement from cycling in 2011."
Anderson Cooper's news telecast led with the news of new doping allegations against Armstrong. A caption below the screen read, "Due to allegations, champion cyclist banned from triathlons."
Even Velonews led with the headline, "USADA suspends Armstrong over doping investigation."
None of this is, in fact, true. Armstrong is not banned from triathlons. Not yet. Rather, USADA's 15-page letter, sent to Armstrong's attorneys, laid out its thesis that Armstrong was part of a team-wide conspiracy to dope, and concluded with, "at this time, we are forwarding this matter to a panel of USADA anti-doping review board for its consideration and recommendation as set forth in the USADA protocol."
And, "... if this case proceeds beyond the anti-doping review board USADA will recommend a sanction..."
There is therefore no ban yet. Armstrong is free to compete in triathlon, or cycling, for that matter, assuming the race organizer will allow him into its race. And there's the rub.
"Armstrong is therefore suspended from competing in WTC-owned and licensed races pending further review," wrote the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) in a statement. This, because, "Our rules, as stated in the WTC Professional Athlete Agreement and Waiver, dictate an athlete is ineligible to compete during an open investigation." WTC owns and produces the Ironman brand of triathlons.
Perhaps there is some wiggle room in the phrase, "pending further review."
When would this ban threatened by USADA take place? "If a hearing is held in the regular course, you should anticipate a hearing date before November, 2012." It would then seem logical that a period of time would transpire while the independent Review Board adjudicates the matter and renders its decision. Even then, if the Review Board finds against Armstrong, USADA would then "recommend a sanction."
If a sanction is then returned, there is then the possible appeal to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), which would likely stretch into 2013.
During that time, there seems no reason why Armstrong could not continue to race in any event in which he's welcome, including triathlons.