World cycling champion Lance Armstrong was officially stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) today after his decision to stop contesting the doping charges alleged against him.
The Calgary Herald reported USADA said it expected cycling's governing body to take similar action, but the International Cycling Union said it first wanted a full explanation on why Armstrong should relinquish Tour titles he won from 1999 through 2005.
He is now officially a drug cheat in the eyes of his nation's doping agency, the newspaper wrote.
"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," said USADA chief executive, Travis Tygart.
"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 US Anti-Doping Agency stripped the world's most famous cyclist of his seven titles Friday and implemented a lifetime ban on him from cycling, the Associated Press reported. It stated:
An athlete who became a hero to thousands for overcoming cancer and for his foundation’s fight against the disease is now officially a drug cheat in the eyes of his nation’s doping agency.
According to the Guardian, Armstrong's decision that he will stop fighting the USADA's charges against him essentially means that he has admitted his wrongdoing, conceding that he won his titles by doping.
Armstrong has continued to deny that he had ever used performance enhancing drugs, and has called the USADA's charges “an unconstitutional witch hunt,” The New York Times reported.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Armstrong said in a statement. “For me, that time is now.”
His decision not to fight has far reaching consequences. In addition to his seven Tour titles, he is expected to lose his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics, and every other title, and award (including money) that he's won after August 1998.
Furthermore, Armstrong is expected to be banned from competing, coaching, or having any other official role with any sport that follows the World Anti-Doping Code.
According to the BBC, the USADA has also given three of Armstrong's former medics lifetime bans. The men, Luis Garcia del Moral, Michele Ferrari, and Jose Marti, have been charged with possessing, trafficking and administering doping products, along with covering-up Armstrong's use of the drugs.
“It’s a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency to the New York Times. “It’s yet another heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition.”
According to the Telegraph, the USADA will make the evidence against Armstrong public.
Here's a video of the cyclist in a Nike ad, in which he states that he doesn't use any drugs: "Everyone wants to know what I'm on, what am I on, I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day."
Armstrong, a cancer survivor, has vowed to continue focusing on his cancer charity work.