Lance Armstrong Risk Losing Seven Tour De France Titles
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday night it will strip Lance Armstrong of his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles after he declared he was finished fighting the drug charges that threaten his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, said Armstrong also would be hit with a lifetime ban on Friday.
Still to be heard from was the sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union, which had backed Armstrong’s legal challenge to USADA’s authority.
Armstrong, who retired last year, declined to enter USADA’s arbitration process — his last option — because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof of his innocence during his extraordinary run of Tour titles stretching from1999-2005.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” Armstrong said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. He called the USADA investigation an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”
“I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999,” he said. “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 had been given until 06:00 GMT on Friday to decide whether to continue fighting the USADA charges.
The agency has said that 10 of Armstrong’s former teammates are prepared to testify against him.
The cyclist has accused USADA of offering “corrupt inducements” to other riders.
USADA also accuses Armstrong of being a “ring-leader” of systematic doping on his Tour de France winning teams.
Mr Tygart said shortly after Armstrong’s statement that his agency would ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his titles, according to AP.
The chief executive described the case as a “heartbreaking” example of a win-at-all costs approach to sports.
However, Armstrong disputed that the USADA has the power to take away his titles.
“USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges,” his statement said.
The cycling governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) – which had backed Armstrong’s challenge to challenge USADA’s authority – has so far make no public comments on the latest developments.
Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer prior to his record-breaking Tour wins, retired after the 2005 Tour de France but made a comeback in 2009.
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