By now I’m sure everyone has heard the news about Lance Armstrong. The seven-time Tour de France winner has decided that he no longer wants to fight the allegations that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is bringing against him. In a statement released on his website last night, Armstrong said “Enough is enough.” He knows that this fight will probably go on for months and that even if he manages to clear his name yet again, he’ll probably continue to be dogged by allegations and charges for years to come. Rather than face that ongoing battle, he has decided against taking his case to arbitration and simply accept the USADA’s decision. He’ll almost assuredly get a lifetime ban from competition and could potentially lose all of his Tour wins as well.
There has been a lot of hyperbole tossed around in the press over the past 12-hours or so, thanks in no small part due to statements made by Travis Tygart, the Chief Executive of the USADA. Tygart says that he can and will strip Armstrong of his seven Tour wins, despite the fact that he has no jurisdiction to do so. Only the International Cycling Union (UCI) or the Tour has the ability to do that and at this point we have no idea if or when they’ll do that. The UCI has been in contention with the USADA over this investigation for some time and have spoken out against the process. They don’t seem likely to want to cooperate with Tygart and his team. Officials from the Tour de France on the other hand, may see things differently.
Despite never failing a drug test throughout his career, reports indicate that the USADA has found two samples from 2009 and 2010 that indicate that there may have been efforts to mask the use of performance enhancing drugs. Lets be clear here. The samples don’t show PED’s in Armstrong’s system, simply that there may have been steps taken to hide their use. Tygart is also said to have ten former teammates of Armstrong lined up to testify that he was doping while winning all of those races, although some believe that those other riders had little choice but to testify or face their own inquiries as well.
More than one critic of the USADA’s investigation have called it a “witch hunt.” Some have even hinted that there is a bit of a personal vendetta on the part of Tygart. His battles with Lance go back a number of years and his desire to catch Armstrong have continued despite the cyclists retiring. Twice. It should also be noted that the USADA moved ahead with it’s investigation despite the fact that the U.S. Attorney General’s Office dropped its case against Armstrong back in February. That investigation lasted for two-years and was abandoned for lack of evidence.
Some have wondered why this case is moving ahead now when Armstrong is no longer cycling competitively. While he was no longer on the international cycling circuit, Lance was competing in triathlons and doing quite well. He had planned on racing in the Ironman Championships in Hawaii this fall and by many accounts he was poised to have an impact on that sport as well. Despite the fact that he was retired from pro cycling, Armstrong was competing, just on a smaller stage. The lifetime ban from competition will ensure he doesn’t take part in any sanctioned events again.
As a huge cycling fan I realize that the era in which Armstrong raced was one in which nearly everyone in the peloton was using some kind of performance enhancing drug or other method to gain an advantage. That doesn’t excuse their use of course, it is just an acknowledgement that it was a different time for the sport. The UCI has taken great strides to clean up cycling and while they’re not completely there yet, things have certainly improved over the past few years.
We’ll have to wait and see how everything falls out with this case. The USADA will likely pass their brand of judgement very quickly. How the UCI and the Tour de France responds will be very telling. Either way, I’m sure Armstrong is looking forward to turning the page and moving forward. He still has a lot of good work to do with his Livestrong Foundation and I truly believe he is just plain tired of fighting these charges.
Whether or not he gets to keep those seven Tour wins remains to be seen. But fans of the sport and of Armstrong know who won those races out on the road. The results of this investigation won’t change that.
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7 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong Ends USADA Fight, Faces Lifetime Ban And Loss Of Titles”
'But fans of the sport and of Armstrong know who won those races out on the road'….
Did Ben Johnson win his race, did Marion Jones win hers ? Why is this different ?
Think it's time you let the myth go, no matter how hard. If you don't accept by now he cheated, lied and bullied his way round France, there is little hope for a clean sport ever. You are in denial.
He's given up because the evidence has become overwhelming and he'd rather pursue every legal avenue to pick apart the process than confront it. And that has failed.
Even then he says one thing and does another, still threatening to sue USADA for doing their job, rather than confronting the evidence.
If his behaviour is admirable to you, fair enough, you live to a different moral code to me. But he's the biggest cheat ever in sport to the authorities that don't have a vested interest protecting the rich and powerful.
Truth caught up with him in the end.
It isn't that I think Armstrong wasn't doping. Quite the contrary. But just as baseball had its steroid era, cycling had its doping years too. Wiping out all of that history won't make people forget who won those races out on the road.
Personally I think the UCI and Tour should recognize the era for what it was and move on. The sport is getting cleaner all the time and it is more important to worry about cyclists now being clean then it is going back a decade or two to hunt down riders who may or may not have cheated when things were very different.
Problem with that is all the defendants in this case – the USPS Conspiracy – were, until they were banned, still active in professional sport. So to say forget about it and move on doesn't make any sense.
Here's a nice summary with lots of helpful links.
We ran the question of guilty or witch hunt with our facebook fans and had a resounding witch hunt…sample size 160+ road bikers
And the judge who was asked wether it was a fair process said it was. And he's the one who counts.
'Witch hunt' sounds so emotive, easy to 'sell'… it's just not true though.
Actually the judge ruled that Armstrong's counter-suit wouldn't stand. In dismissing it, he also made a comment about how the USADA's case was "woefully inadequate" for spelling out exactly what it had on Armstrong.
His ruling against Armstrong was not in anyway an endorsement of the USADA. He did say they were playing within their jurisdiction as spelled out by Congress.
The judge criticised everyone involved. Indeed he was most damning of Armstrong and his initial submission, he chucked it out entirely for including a load of irrelevant points and for playing to the gallery, a recurring theme in his defence over the years.
He also, as you say, said that the evidence was inadequate at that point (LA's history of witness intimadation was a big factor here) but was satisfied that USADA could produce more if requested and that the process would do so anyway.
And he did endorse USADA on the two key points (the whole point of the case) :
– USADA have lawful jurisdiction in the case (and confirmed by WADA)
– That a fair process would take place as all the evidence would be shared in front of an independent panel and LA would have a fair chance to defend himself. Which is all USADA wanted from the start.
The opposite of a witchhunt.
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