I haven’t followed this story other than to know Lance Armstrong was under investigation and fighting back hard against charges that he has long used performance enhancing drugs to achieve his cycling successes. I have no perception of whether it is true, or if teammates couldn’t handle the seven straight wins, or the World couldn’t handle one more powerfully adept American competitor, or that he is guilty. Today, it seems it is over, and he has been stripped of seven Tour de France titles. He will be banned from the event for life. Fox and Friends this minute is saying ten witnesses, including some his closest teammates are waiting in the wings to testify against him, although the International Cycling Union has backed him in the past.
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. Source Tampa Bay OnLine
“Say what you will about what I did or didn’t do ten years ago, they’re not playing by the rules,” Mr. Armstrong said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this summer. “Here’s the deal, athletes cheating in sport, that’s bad. But what these guys are doing is far worse. The levels they have gone to try to f— me and rig this thing are far worse than any athlete taking a transfusion or some EPO. This is far dirtier.”…
In 2010, Mr. Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, sent a series of emails to cycling officials in which he made allegations of doping on Mr. Armstrong’s former cycling team and accused Mr. Armstrong of doping during his career. The existence of the emails was first reported by The Wall Street Journal….
Mr. Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. He came back to win the sport’s biggest race—the Tour de France—in 1999. He went on to win six more Tour de France titles in a row, beating the previous record of five. Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography, “It’s Not About the Bike,” was a best seller.
Not only has he always passed his drug tests, he has never tested positive.
Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer and major fundraiser for research through his Livestrong foundation, had until Thursday night to inform the USADA if he would fight the charges, with his last option arbitration. The cycling champion refused that option, saying the USADA was ”on a witch hunt” and that the agency didn’t have the authority to impose a lifetime ban. Source: LA Times
But even without a positive test, the antidoping agency appeared set to move forward with arbitration. It claimed to have more than 10 eyewitnesses who would testify that Armstrong used banned blood transfusions, the blood booster EPO, testosterone and other drugs to win the Tour. Some of Armstrong’s closest teammates, including George Hincapie — one of the most respected American riders — were also expected to testify against him.
The antidoping agency also said it had blood test results of Armstrong’s from 2009 and 2010 that were consistent with doping.
Armstrong says his decision to give-up the fight is NOT an admission of guilt, but the USADA (US Anti-Doping Association) is spinning it that way.