Lance Armstrong has been banned for life from cycling and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after the cyclist yesterday dropped his fight against charges that he had used performance-enhancing drugs.
The USADA today handed down the ban and revoked "any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes" that Armstrong had won since August 1st, 1998, including his Tour de France championships and the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics.
"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," USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart 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."
Armstrong dropped his fight against the doping accusations yesterday, and denied again in a defiant statement on his website that he had ever used performance-enhancing drugs.
"I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours," Armstrong, 40, wrote in a stinging condemnation of the USADA and Tygart, who have claimed that Armstrong was behind systematic doping on his Tour-winning teams.
Armstrong, who says the USADA doesn't have the standing to take away his Tour de France titles, criticized the agency's "one-sided and unfair" process, and said the body was "a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers' expense."
The antidoping agency claimed to have eyewitnesses who saw Armstrong use blood transfusions, testosterone and other banned substances as part of his Tour-winning efforts. The cyclist says the agency has no physical evidence to support its accusations.
"The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors," he wrote.
Armstrong wrote that he ended his fight against the antidoping agency because of the toll it has taken on his family and his work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough,'" he wrote. "For me, that time is now."