Lance Armstrong to lose seven Tour de France titles as he gives up doping charges fight

 

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong said yesterday he would no longer fight doping charges by the US Anti-Doping Agency, which quickly said it would strip him of his titles and ban him from competitive cycling.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor considered one of the all-time greats in his sport, made the announcement in a written statement as he faced a midnight deadline to formally challenge the accusations against him.

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough,'" the American cyclist said in the statement, which was posted on his website, Lancearmstrong.com.

"For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999," he said.

A short time later a spokeswoman for the USADA, Annie Skinner, said the agency would strip Armstrong of his seven titles and ban him from the sport of professional cycling for life.

"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes," Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive officer, said in a written statement released to Reuters by the agency.

"This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition, but for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs," he said.

If the USADA strips Armstrong of his titles he would become one of the highest-profile athletes to face such a sanction, at least since Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was disqualified from the 1988 Seoul Olympics after winning the gold medal in the 100m race.

Texas-born Armstrong, who retired from professional cycling last year but remains the face of his anti-cancer charity, Livestrong, has long denied that he used performance enhancing drugs to help fuel his brilliant career.

He maintained that emphatic denial in the statement issued yesterday, stressing that there was no physical evidence to support what he called Tygart's "outlandish and heinous claims."

Armstrong, who never failed a doping test, said he would "jump at the chance" to put the allegations to rest once and for all, but refused to participate in the USADA process, which he called "one-sided and unfair."

He disputed the agency's authority to take away his titles.

"Today I will turn the page," he said. "I will no longer address this issue regardless of the circumstances."

A spokesman for the World Anti-Doping Agency, based in Montreal, could not immediately be reached for comment last night.

Armstrong, 40, has been one of the most successful and controversial cyclists of all time, returning to the sport after beating cancer to win the Tour de France an unprecedented seven times in succession from 1999 to 2005.

Livestrong, known for its popular yellow bracelets, takes its inspiration from his achievements and recovery from testicular cancer.

The USADA, a quasi-governmental agency created by the US Congress in 2000, formally charged Armstrong in June with doping and taking part in a conspiracy with members of his championship teams. Five other cyclists have been accused of conspiring with Armstrong over the course of 14 years to hide doping activity.

The agency said in a letter to Armstrong that it has blood samples from 2009 and 2010 that are "fully consistent" with doping.

In the letter, which was published in the Washington Post, the agency said it also has at least 10 former teammates and colleagues of Armstrong who will testify he used doping drugs during races from 1999 to 2005.

Former teammate and deposed Tour de France winner Floyd Landis accused Armstrong in 2010 of not only using performance-enhancing drugs but teaching others how to avoid being caught.

Landis said he witnessed some of his teammates, including Armstrong, use illegal drugs to boost performance and endurance.

Earlier this month a federal judge dismissed Armstrong's effort to block the probe, despite a contention by his attorneys that USADA gathered evidence by threatening to ruin the careers of fellow cyclists who have agreed to testify against him.

Armstrong's lawyers also argued that the agency's rules violate his right to a fair trial and that it lacks proper jurisdiction to charge him.

In February, the Justice Department dropped an investigation centred on whether Armstrong and his teammates cheated the sponsor of their bike racing team, the US Postal Service, with a secret doping programme.

Armstrong's attorneys say he has "passed every drug test ever administered to him in his career - a total of 500 to 600 tests ... more drug tests than any athlete in history."

They say the International Cycling Union has proper jurisdiction in the case.

Reuters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - North West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - South West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IT - Fixed Term, Part Time

£17340 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Come and join one of the UK's leading ca...

Recruitment Genius: Property Sales Consultant - Chinese Speaking - OTE £70,000

£18000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity for a Fluent Chines...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent