Armstrong drops fight, lifetime ban follows

Lance Armstrong, doping USADA, WADA
End game ... Lance Armstrong will be stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles (File pic)

Lance Armstrong will not fight the doping charges levelled at him by US Anti-Doping Agency, effectively opting to accept a lifetime ban and the loss of his seven Tour de France titles.

There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough’. For me, that time is now.

The deadline for Armstrong to challenge USADA and take the case to arbitration passed overnight and the American released a statement saying he would not be pursuing that today.

USADA’s case against Armstrong dates back to 1996 and alleges the 40 year old used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions, all with the aim of boosting his performance.

Armstrong retired from cycling in 2011 having won seven Tours de France from 199 to 2005.

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said the agency will now ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles for doping.

Armstrong maintains USADA doesn't have the authority to vacate his Tour titles. However, Tygart said that USADA can do so.

Tygart called the Armstrong case a "heartbreaking" example of a win-at-all costs approach to sports.

It will likely now hang the label of drug cheat on an athlete who was a hero to thousands for overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer and for his foundation's support for cancer research.

In his statement, Armstrong wrote: “There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough’. For me, that time is now.”

The American also labelled USADA’s proceedings as a “charade” and claimed he had hoped the US federal court would put an end to its pursuit of him.

Armstrong also reiterated in his statement that in his eyes, he had done nothing wrong during the years he raced on the professional stage, abiding by the laws set by the International Cycling Union (UCI), World Anti=Doping Agency (WADA) and USADA.

“The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced,” the statement continued.

“The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It’s an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It’s just not right.”

Armstrong had never been charged with a doping offence by the time he retired in 2011 despite a two-year federal criminal investigation into many of the same accusations brought forward by USADA now.

USADA announced in June it had evidence Armstrong used banned substances and methods, just a few months after the federal case had been closed. The agency also said it had blood tests from 2009 and 2010 that were "fully consistent" with blood doping.

Included in USADA's evidence were emails written by Armstrong's former US Postal Service team-mate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after a positive drug test. Landis's emails to a USA Cycling official detailed allegations of a complex doping program on the team.

USADA also said it had 10 former Armstrong team-mates ready to testify against him.

Other than suggesting they include Landis and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom have admitted to doping offenses, the agency has so far refused to name them.

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