Lance Armstrong drops anti-doping fight, agency strips Tour de France titles
AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong says he is done fighting drug charges alleged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. USADA immediately banned him for life, and stripped his seven Tour de France titles.
The Associated Press reports Armstrong says the agency doesn’t have the authority to strip his titles, but USADA disagrees.
Armstrong won the Tour de France from 1999-2005, something no other cyclist achieved.
“Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) unconstitutional witch hunt,” Armstrong said in a statement on his website. “The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.”
Armstrong insists the decision is not an admission of drug use. Instead, he’s refusing to enter an arbitration process he says is unfair and improper to athletes who face charges.
Armstrong was not charged following a 2-year long federal criminal investigation into many of the same accusations he faces from USADA.
The federal investigation was closed in February.
In June, USADA announced it had evidence he used banned substances to enhance his performance.
The agency said it had 10 former Armstrong teammates ready to testify against him.
Armstrong, 40, retired in 2011.
He sued USADA in Austin, his home town, in attempt to block the case. The judge threw out the suit, but questioned USADA’s motivations for pursuing Armstrong in retirement.
“USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives, such as politics or publicity,” U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.
Armstrong is known as one of the fiercest competitors in the world. This announcement is surprising to some, in that he’s quit before the fight is over.
His was the ultimate comeback tale. He fought and beat stage 3 testicular cancer when doctors had given him less than a 50 percent chance of survival before surgery and intense chemotherapy treatment.
Then he won the Tour de France for the first time in 1999.
Armstrong was in Colorado earlier this month, when he won the inaugural Steamboat Springs marathon.
He’s also registered to ride in a mountain bike race in Aspen on Saturday.
He has been praised for using his fame for the greater good. He has worked tirelessly on cancer awareness. The Lance Armstrong Foundation Live Strong “unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer.”
The USA Pro Challenge bicycle race is running in Colorado this week. Cyclists had strong reactions Friday in Golden.
“It’s a harsh ruling and probably won’t help the sport anytime soon,” says Drew Wiechnicki. “The U.S.A.D.A. can’t take away his 7 titles. I mean, any other sport; He’s never been caught, first, he’s never been tested positive. No other sport would get a lifetime ban and your titles stripped.”
“Baseball players are doping and they’re not being stripped of all their titles. They’re not being banned from sports, so, I think it’s sort of unfair,” says Elyse Wiechnicki.