CYCLIST STRIPPED OF SEVEN TOUR DE FRANCE TITLES
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has vacated the career of cycling legend Lance Armstrong – stripping him of his record-breaking seven Tour de France titles based on his alleged use of steroids and blood doping.
“Nobody wins when an athlete decides to cheat with dangerous performance enhancing drugs, but clean athletes at every level expect those of us here on their behalf, to pursue the truth to ensure the win-at-all-cost culture does not permanently overtake fair, honest competition,” the agency said in a statement. “Any time we have overwhelming proof of doping, our mandate is to initiate the case through the process and see it to conclusion as was done in this case.”
The agency’s decision came in response to Armstrong’s refusal to take the charges leveled against him to arbitration – which it viewed as an admission of guilt.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘enough is enough,’” Armstrong said. “For me, that time is now.”
“If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and — once and for all — put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance,” he added. “But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”
Armstrong won a record seven consecutive Tour de France races from 1999-2005. No other cyclist was won the race more than five times.
The USADA has yet to present conclusive evidence that Armstrong ever used steroids or engaged in blood doping – although it says that it has multiple witnesses as well as test results that are consistent with doping (i.e. artificially elevating an athlete’s red blood cell count).
The Union Cycliste Internationale – which governs the sport – has yet to decide whether it will accept the USADA’s ruling. Amaury Sport Organization, the entity which runs the Tour de France, also said it would withhold judgment.