Colorado Springs - The pressure mounted on America's seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong on Tuesday as three former close associates were banned for life from sport, the US Anti-Doping Agency announced on Tuesday.
Former US Postal doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, Armstrong's personal trainer and consultant to the team Michele Ferrari and coach "Pepe" Marti were handed life-time bans for their roles in what USADA termed 'systematic doping within the team.'
"Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition," read a statement by USADA chief executive officer Travis Tygart.
This trio are part of the group of six, including Armstrong, who were accused by USADA in June of being part of a doping conspiracy during his years as Tour de France champion (1996-2001), the move coming four months after a two-year US government probe into Armstrong ended with no criminal charges.
Another doctor Pedro Celaya, who is presently team doctor to the RadioShack team, and sporting director Johan Bruyneel are also accused of being involved.