Cycling fans were dealt a blow Thursday when former American road-racing cyclist Lance Armstrong decided to give up the fight against the doping charges brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USA Today reports.
“I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances,” Armstrong said in a statement, as he vowed to focus all his energies on his Livestrong cancer foundation (Armstrong is a survivor of testicular cancer). “We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause.”
Giving up the fight comes with some consequences — since he won’t be going into arbitration, the 40-year-old athlete will have to say goodbye to his seven Tour de France titles. He has also been banned from participating in any sporting event that abides by the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
Back in June, the Anti-Doping Agency accused Armstrong of using drugs, giving drugs to other people, and covering up his violations. Armstrong denied the allegations, saying on his website, “I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.”
After the news broke Thursday, USADA CEO Travis Tygart released this statement: “It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes. This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition. But for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”
But even though Armstrong is being stripped of his seven titles, he knows that he was the one who truly won those epic races. “I know who won those seven Tours,” he said. “The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially Travis Tygart.”
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