Los Angeles: The US anti-doping agency on Friday stripped cycling icon Lance Armstrong of his record seven Tour de France titles and slapped him with a lifetime ban from competition.
Armstrong announced on Thursday that he was dropping his legal challenge against USADA over claims that he cheated and used performance-enhancing drugs to win cycling’s most prestigious race from 1999 to 2005.
The 40-year-old, who battled to the top of his sport after beating life-threatening cancer, maintained his innocence but said he had grown weary of the fight and the strain it had put on his personal and professional life.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say ‘enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” he said in a statement.
USADA took his announcement as an admission of guilt and proceeded with severe sanctions against the former champion and global sporting icon that will forever tarnish his inspirational legacy.
“USADA announced today that Lance Armstrong has chosen not to move forward with the independent arbitration process and as a result has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 through the present,” a statement said.
This may not be the end of the matter as the International Cycling Union, the sport’s governing body, has been fighting USADA for jurisdiction of the Armstrong case and could launch an appeal or fail to recognise the move.
Prior to USADA’s punishment, Armstrong condemned the US anti-doping organisation for what he called an “unconstitutional witch hunt” and said it had no right to strip him of his titles.
“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.”