Cyclist Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Cyclist Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles



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On October 22, 2012, Lance Armstrong is formally stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won from 1999 to 2005 and banned for life from competitive cycling after being charged with systematically using illicit performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions as well as demanding that some of his Tour teammates dope in order to help him win races. It was a dramatic fall from grace for the onetime global cycling icon, who inspired millions of people after surviving cancer then going on to become one of the most dominant riders in the history of the grueling French race, which attracts the planet’s top cyclists.

Born in Texas in 1971, Armstrong became a professional cyclist in 1992 and by 1996 was the number-one ranked rider in the world. However, in October 1996 he was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs, brain and abdomen. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, Armstrong resumed training in early 1997 and in October of that year joined the U.S. Postal Service cycling team. Also in 1997, he established a cancer awareness foundation. The organization would famously raise millions of dollars through a sales campaign, launched in 2004, of yellow Livestrong wristbands.

In July 1999, to the amazement of the cycling world and less than three years after his cancer diagnosis, Armstrong won his first Tour de France. He was only the second American ever to triumph in the legendary, three-week race, established in 1903. (The first American to do so was Greg LeMond, who won in 1986, 1989 and 1990.) Armstrong went on to win the Tour again in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he became the first person ever to claim six Tour titles, and on July 24, 2005, Armstrong won his seventh straight title and retired from pro cycling. He made a comeback to the sport in 2009, finishing third in that year’s Tour and 23rd in the 2010 Tour, before retiring for good in 2011 at age 39.

Throughout his career, Armstrong, like many other top cyclists of his era, was dogged by accusations of performance-boosting drug use, but he repeatedly and vigorously denied all allegations against him and claimed to have passed hundreds of drug tests. In June 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), following a two-year investigation, charged the cycling superstar with engaging in doping violations from at least August 1998, and with participating in a conspiracy to cover up his misconduct. After losing a federal appeal to have the USADA charges against him dropped, Armstrong announced on August 23 that he would stop fighting them. However, calling the USADA probe an “unconstitutional witch hunt,” he continued to insist he hadn’t done anything wrong and said the reason for his decision to no longer challenge the allegations was the toll the investigation had taken on him, his family and his cancer foundation. The next day, USADA announced Armstrong had been banned for life from competitive cycling and disqualified of all competitive results from August 1, 1998, through the present.

On October 10, 2012, USADA released hundreds of pages of evidence—including sworn testimony from 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates, as well as emails, financial documents and lab test results—that the anti-doping agency said demonstrated Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team had been involved in the most sophisticated and successful doping program in the history of cycling. A week after the USADA report was made public, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of his cancer foundation and was dumped by a number of his sponsors, including Nike, Trek and Anheuser-Busch.On October 22, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the cycling’s world governing body, announced that it accepted the findings of the USADA investigation and officially was erasing Armstrong’s name from the Tour de France record books and upholding his lifetime ban from the sport. In a press conference that day, the UCI president stated: “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”

After years of denials, Armstrong finally admitted publicly, in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on January 17, 2013, he had doped for much of his cycling career, beginning in the mid-1990s through his final Tour de France victory in 2005. He admitted to using a performance-enhancing drug regimen that included testosterone, human growth hormone, the blood booster EPO and cortisone.


Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Lance Armstrong, the most decorated, celebrated and controversial rider in cycling history, has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after refusing to contest charges of doping, drug trafficking, and administering of drugs to others, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Armstrong, who has not admitted any of the charges, withdrew his co‑operation in the case levelled against him by Usada, which has responded by banning the 40-year-old for life and scrubbing all of his career titles.

The Colorado-based agency now looks set on a collision course with cycling's governing body, the UCI, which is expected to dispute Usada's claim of absolute jurisdiction to punish Armstrong and effectively shred the sport's recent history by taking the case to the court of arbitration for sport. This year Andy Schleck was awarded the 2010 Tour de France winner's jersey, amid embarrassment from the race organisers and Schleck himself, after Alberto Contador was stripped of his title.

If Usada's punishment is allowed to stand, the UCI will have to find a way of expunging Armstrong from cycling history while facing the prospect of rewarding other athletes with murky pasts.

Usada, fully supported in its actions by the World Anti-Doping Agency, said in a statement on Friday night: "Usada announced today that Lance Armstrong has chosen not to move forward with the independent arbitration process and as a result has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from 1 August 1998 through the present, as the result of his anti-doping rule violations stemming from his involvement in the United States Postal Service cycling team doping conspiracy."

Armstrong, who was charged in June, sought a temporary restraining order against the agency's legal action but that was dismissed in a federal court in Austin, Texas on Monday.

On Friday morning he announced: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say: 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by [the head of Usada] Travis Tygart's unconstitutional witch hunt."

Usada responded to Armstrong's claims: "When given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him, and with full knowledge of the consequences, Mr Armstrong chose not to contest the fact that he engaged in doping violations from at least 1 August 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions.

"As a result of Mr Armstrong's decision, Usada is required under the applicable rules, including the World Anti-Doping Code under which he is accountable, to disqualify his competitive results and suspend him from all future competition."

Usada is expected to press ahead with proceedings against several of Armstrong's former colleagues and associates, most notably his former sporting director Johan Bruyneel and the controversial Italian trainer, Dr Michele Ferrari, who will contest charges, before it outlines its against Armstrong.

The case against Armstrong is claimed to consist of testimonies from more than a dozen witnesses, including eyewitness reports from team-mates that amount to "overwhelming evidence" that Armstrong was not only guilty of using an array of illegal performance enhancing methods, but also played a vital part in their distribution and use by other riders.

In the same statement, Usada said: "Numerous witnesses provided evidence to Usada based on personal knowledge acquired, either through direct observation of doping activity by Armstrong, or through Armstrong's admissions of doping to them that Armstrong used EPO [erythropoietin], blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and HGH [human growth hormone] through 1996.

"Witnesses also provided evidence that Lance Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005. Additionally, scientific data showed Mr Armstrong's use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions during Mr Armstrong's comeback to cycling in the 2009 Tour de France."

The timescale of the case against Armstrong indicates a suspicion that he used illegal drugs before being found to have developed testicular cancer, with the disease spreading to his lungs, abdomen and brain. Given a 40% chance of survival, Armstrong recovered to win his seven Tour titles, and launch on the back of his aura of indefatigability his Livestrong brand and cancer charity that has raised in excess of £400m.


Lance Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by UCI

Lance Armstrong "has no place in cycling" and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after the sport's world governing body, the UCI accepted the findings of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's investigation.

Armstrong refused to co-operate with Usada, who earlier this month published a 1,000-page report that concluded the Texan and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

In accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI had 21 days to respond, until 31 October, and the president Pat McQuaid announced on Monday that cycling's world governing body would accept Usada's findings and ratified the sanctions imposed on Armstrong. The former rider has been stripped of all results since 1 August, 1998 and banned for life.

At a media conference in Geneva, McQuaid said: "The UCI will not appeal to the court of arbitration for sport and it will recognise the sanctions that Usada has imposed.

"The UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and the UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling."

McQuaid, whose organisation has long battled a major doping problem throughout the sport, added: "This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads and has had to start anew." He said he would not be resigning.

Eleven former team-mates of Armstrong testified against him to Usada, receiving six-month bans. These suspensions were also ratified by the UCI, which thanked the riders for giving evidence.

McQuaid said: "The UCI will also recognise the sanctions imposed on the riders who testified against Lance Armstrong UCI indeed thanks them for telling their stories."

The UCI, particularly the leadership of McQuaid and the honorary president Hein Verbruggen, who was president at the time of Armstrong's record run of Tour success, have met criticism over the Usada investigation.

Allegations have been made against the UCI that McQuaid dismissed. "UCI has nothing to hide in responding to the Usada report. The UCI has called a special meeting of the management committee next Friday to discuss this report and the measures which the UCI wishes to put in place in order that we are never faced with such a situation in the future."

McQuaid was steadfast in his belief that cycling has a positive future. "This is a landmark day for cycling. Cycling has endured a lot of pain as it has absorbed the impact of the Usada report.

"UCI promised to prioritise our analysis of the report and to provide an early response and we've done that. My message to cycling, to our riders, to our sponsors and to our fans today is: cycling has a future.

"This is not the first time that cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew and to engage in the painful process of confronting its past.

"Stakeholders and fans can be assured that it will find a new path forward. We're here to answer your questions and to say to the cycling community: UCI is listening and is on your side.

"We've come too far in the fight against doping to return to our past. Cycling has a future and something like this must never happen again."


Lance Armstrong Doping: International Cycling Union Strips Champion Of 7 Tour De France Titles, Bans Him For Life

GENEVA, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life after the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Monday it had ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) sanctions.

The decision was announced at a UCI news conference.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," UCI President Pat McQuaid said as he confirmed the ratification.

On Oct. 10, USADA published a report into Armstrong which alleged the now retired American rider had been involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen".

Armstrong, 41, had previously elected not to contest USADA charges, prompting USADA to propose his punishment pending confirmation from cycling's world governing body.

Former Armstrong team mates at his U.S. Postal and Discovery Channel outfits, where he won his seven straight Tour titles from 1999 to 2005, testified against him and were given reduced bans by the American authorities.

Armstrong, once widely accepted as one of the greatest cyclists of all time given he fought back from cancer to dominate the sport, has always denied doping and says he has never failed a doping test.

He said he had stopped contesting the charges after years of probes and rumours because "there comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough'".

McQuaid, whose organisation has long battled a major doping problem throughout the sport, added: "This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads and has had to start anew."

He said he would not be resigning. (Reporting by Julien Pretot Editing by Mark Meadows)


Lance Armstrong stripped of 7 Tour de France titles

GENEVA — Seven lines of blanks. From 1999 to 2005. There will be no Tour de France winner in the record book for those years.

Once the toast of the Champs-Elysees, Lance Armstrong was formally stripped of his seven Tour titles Monday and banned for life for doping.

As far as the Tour is concerned, his victories never happened. He was never on the top step of the podium. The winner’s yellow jersey was never on his back.

The decision by the International Cycling Union marked an end to the saga that brought down the most decorated rider in Tour history and exposed widespread cheating in the sport.

“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” said Pat McQuaid, president of the governing body. “Make no mistake, it’s a catastrophe for him, and he has to face up to that.”

It’s also devastating for Tour de France organizers, who have to carve seven gaping holes from the honor roll of the sport’s biggest event and airbrush Armstrong’s image from a sun-baked podium on the Champs-Elysees.

No more rides through Paris for the grim-faced cancer survivor bearing the American flag. No champagne. From the sport’s perspective, it’s all gone.

“We wish that there is no winner for this period,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme said Monday in Paris. “For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners.”

Armstrong’s fiercely defended reputation as a clean athlete was shattered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency two weeks ago, when it detailed evidence of drug use and trafficking by his Tour-winning teams. USADA released its report to show why it orderedArmstrong banned from competition back in August. Monday’s judgment by the UCI was just the necessary next legal step to formalize the loss of his titles and expel him from the sport.

It will likely also trigger painful financial hits for Armstrong as race organizers and former sponsors line up to reclaim what are now viewed as his ill-gotten rewards, though the cyclist maintains he never doped.

Prudhomme wants Armstrong to pay back prize money from his seven wins, which the French cycling federation tallied at €2.95 million ($3.85 million). Armstrong also once was awarded $7.5 million plus legal fees from Dallas-based SCA Promotions Inc., which tried to withhold paying a bonus for the rider’s 2004 Tour victory after it alleged he doped to win.

The U.S. government could also get involved in a case brought by Floyd Landis, who was key to taking down his illustrious former teammate by turning whistleblower in 2010.

The losses pile up for a man who dedicated himself to victory, over other cyclists and the cancer that almost killed him in 1996.

Neither Armstrong nor his representatives had any comment about Monday’s decision, but the rider was defiant in August when he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency’s arbitration hearings. He argued the process was rigged against him.

“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 said then. “The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that.”

The condemnation by McQuaid, cycling’s most senior official, confirmed Armstrong’s pariah status, after the UCI had backed him at times in trying to seize control of the doping investigation from USADA.

McQuaid announced that the UCI accepted the sanctions imposed by USADA and would not appeal them to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. His board will meet Friday to discuss going after Armstrong’s 2000 Olympic bronze medal and the possibility of setting up a “Truth and Reconciliation” commission to air the sport’s remaining secrets.

The International Olympic Committee said it would study the UCI’s response and wait to receive its full decision before possibly taking away Armstrong’s medal from the Sydney Games time trial.

“It is good to see that all parties involved in this case are working together to tackle this issue,” the IOC said.

McQuaid said he was “sickened” by some of the evidence detailed by USADA in its 200-page report and hundreds of pages of supporting testimony and documents.

USADA said Armstrong was at the center of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen” within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

The American agency welcomed the decision by UCI.

“Today, the UCI made the right decision in the Lance Armstrong case,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement, which called on cycling to continue to fight doping. “There are many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors and the omerta has not yet been fully broken.”

The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong, including that he pressured them to take banned drugs.

In all, 26 people — including 15 riders — testified to USADA that Armstrong and his teams used and trafficked banned substances and routinely used blood transfusions. Among the witnesses were loyal sidekick George Hincapie and admitted dopers Landis and Tyler Hamilton.

McQuaid singled out former teammate David Zabriskie, saying: “The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind-boggling.”

Armstrong denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests, as many as 500. UCI conducted 218 tests and there were another 51 by USADA, although they are not the only drug-testing bodies.

“At the moment Lance Armstrong hasn’t admitted to anything, yet all the evidence is there in this report that he doped,” McQuaid said.

While drug use allegations have followed the 41-year-old Armstrong throughout much of his career, the USADA report has badly damaged his reputation. Longtime sponsors Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch dropped him last week, and Armstrong also stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer awareness charity he founded 15 years ago after surviving testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and brain.

After the UCI decision, another longtime Armstrong sponsor, Oakley sunglasses, cut ties with the rider.

Armstrong’s astonishing return from life-threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story that transcended the sport. His downfall has ended “one of the most sordid chapters in sports history,” USADA said in its report.


Armstrong Is Stripped of Titles in Cycling

GENEVA—Lance Armstrong was officially stripped of his titles Monday by cycling's governing body in the latest chapter in the doping allegations against the seven-time Tour de France champion.

The International Cycling Union, the sport's governing body known as UCI, acted following a damning report by U.S. antidoping authorities that said Mr. Armstrong was at the center of "a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history."

The UCI said it accepted the findings and punishments handed out by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which included stripping the 41-year-old Mr. Armstrong of all results dating to Aug. 1, 1998. That includes his record run of seven Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005, and wins in other races including the Tour de Suisse and France's Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. He also was banned from competitive cycling for life.

The UCI's decision not to appeal the antidoping agency's verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest court in sports, formally strips Mr. Armstrong of his titles.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," UCI President Pat McQuaid said at a news conference in Geneva.

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Should Lance Armstrong get 'his' seven Tour de France titles back?

Lance Armstrong continues to be a highly divisive character among fans of professional cycling. The Texan former pro rider was officially stripped of seven Tour de France victories (1999-2005) and handed a lifetime ban after admitting to doping throughout his career.

Armstrong may be divisive, but what is agreed is that he was not alone. His US Postal team operated a system of blood doping and use of banned performance-enhancing drugs but so, too, did a large number of other riders and teams in the same era.

Some feel that Armstrong's position as one of the highest-profile cyclists in history had unfairly made him a scapegoat: his race victories were stripped, where others who have also admitted doping have kept theirs.

Others feel that it is precisely because of Armstrong's high-profile position and the way that he went about lying, deceiving and covering up his doping that he should be made an example.

We recently asked Cycling Weekly readers whether they think Armstrong should get 'his' seven Tour titles back, and here are a selection of the responses we received.

Do you agree, or disagree? You can add you comment in the box below.

Look at the sport at the time. Lance did cheat, but so did everyone else. No one says anything about all the other riders. How much influence did one guy have on the sport? Huge. Look how many people cycle now thanks to Lance’s prominence. Give him the titles back.

I’ve thought long and hard about it. No, I can’t think of a single reason. There is no place in sport for drugs. ‘Everyone else was doing it’ isn’t an excuse or a reason.

Alan Fretten

You give him his titles back you have to give every doped winner their titles back. Then, if you do that, what’s the point of testing if the rules are not enforced? It becomes a mockery.

Steve Hislop

UCI needs to show some consistency. Lifetime bans for all dopers. Otherwise the sport has no credibility.

Kris Newton

Biggest case for it: Astana still has its licence and titles. The industry needs to pick. Either we come down hard on all dopers, especially those caught, or we don’t care and allow it. The flip-flopping needs to stop.

Sam Sacalis

The guy ruined Dodgeball. For this he deserves to be removed from the history of sport.

Ross Woodward

He is an amazing athlete &mdash with or without the dope. All the other dopers of the time could not achieve what he did. As to his character and his approach to the saga, that is disappointing.

Jason Davis

Am I right in thinking that if it was not for Lance, cycling would not be the international sport that it is today? I honestly did not know about cycle racing until Lance’s first win after cancer. I found that such a great story I started watching the TdF just to watch him.

Bree Christian

Stop the witchhunt. Draw a line and move on. My DVDs, books and memories from Tour visits to the high mountains recall Lance as the seven-time winner. A UCI ruling never changed history.

David Mason

Leave it. there is no case. Let’s look to the future not the dirt of past un-glories.

Steve Barlow

During that era, a vast majority doped. So in essence, they were all on a level playing field. Let him have his titles.

Daniel Curry

Why ask the question? The guy should not be given any more publicity.


Cyclist Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles - HISTORY

Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France bicycle race, has been stripped of his titles and barred from further competition as a result of doping charges by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), charges upheld by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

The charges against Armstrong are not only for doping himself, but for organizing the systematic doping of his teammates on the United States Postal Service (USPS) cycling team as well.

The entire affair sheds light on the world of professional sports, where drugs are widely used to push athletes to apparently superhuman heights and where those same athletes are glorified or demonized by the media as they gain or lose favor with their corporate sponsors.

Armstrong’s career as a professional cyclist began in 1992 on the Motorola team. Over the next four years he enjoyed a variety of minor successes in the World Cycling Championships, the Clásica de San Sebastián, the Tour DuPont and the Tour de France.

His career was put on hold in 1996 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. For five months he battled the cancer with testicular and brain surgery and aggressive chemotherapy until he was cancer-free. He resumed serious training in January 1998, launching his career in the Tour de France.

Accusations that Armstrong was using performance-enhancing drugs go back to at least 2000, when he was accused of using Actovegin, a chemical that increases blood oxygenation.

The evidence presented by the USADA is fairly compelling, but that hardly settles the important questions involved in the Armstrong case. Essentially, the authorities are hoping to make an example of the cyclist and let that be an end to it. The mass media, always anxious for scandal at the expense of truth, will happily go along with that, probing nothing and enlightening no one.

The larger questions include: Why is doping so pervasive in cycling and other professional sports? Whose financial interests are ultimately served by it? What does the phenomenon tell us about sports for profit and present-day society as a whole? It is safe to assert that none of the interested parties in the Armstrong scandal will care to address any of these issues.

The campaign against Armstrong is being conducted with the usual cynicism and hypocrisy of the various sports authorities and the media, which turn on a dime when an athlete falls from official grace.

Mainstream media outlets, who once called Armstrong “one of the greatest US athletes of all time” and jokingly called the Tour de France the “Tour de Lance,” are now in an anti-doping, anti-Armstrong frenzy. UCI president Pat McQuaid called the extent of the doping “mind-boggling.” The ousted Tour de France champion is being demonized as a cheater and “the greatest fraud in the history of American sports” (Yahoo! Sports).

The reaction against Armstrong has been ruthless and swift. In the past two weeks he has lost not just his Tour de France titles, but his sponsorships with Nike, the bicycle company Trek and Oakley sunglasses. He was forced to resign as chairman from Livestrong, the cancer fighting organization he founded. Amaury Sport Organization, the group that organizes the Tour de France, is going to erase Armstrong’s name from its record books. The International Olympic Committee is looking into stripping Armstrong of his 2000 bronze medal in cycling. McQuaid said of Armstrong, “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling he deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”

This is an absurd comment. Even if Armstrong, clearly an exceptional athlete, were only one bad apple in an otherwise healthy barrel, he could not be forgotten. And since this is obviously not the case, the remark is entirely self-serving and an effort to bury the troubling issues.

What is most revealing, however, is that no winner of the Tour de France will be declared for the years Armstrong wore the yellow shirt. This is not being done out of a sense of fair play, but because of the difficulty of finding a “clean” replacement. Since 1998 more than a third of the cyclists in the top ten spots have either allegedly taken performance-enhancing drugs or have admitted to doing so. In 2003 and 2005, only three of the top ten finishers were apparently drug-free.

Despite all this, there has never been a serious investigation into how Armstrong and so many other competitors have been able to dope themselves and their teammates for so long. This speaks far more to the social character of professional cycling and professional sports in general than it does to any personal failing of Lance Armstrong.

Amaury Sport Organization, which runs the Tour de France, the world’s leading bicycle race, is valued at $1 billion, with a yearly revenue of $200 million. The event is big business, with the annual sponsorship budget for the Tour de France teams standing at $400 million. An estimated one billion people watch television coverage of the race and 14.6 million stand by the roadside as bicyclers pass. Armstrong personally made $15 million annually, mostly from endorsements.

The high financial stakes involved inevitably mean that the transnational corporations that sponsor cyclists and the event itself, such as Nike, ruthlessly push the athletes to win at all costs. There is a continuous drive to set speed and endurance records. This almost predictably leads to the use of performance-enhancing drugs by the cyclists to get the biggest edge possible.

This is an issue throughout professional sports. One need only recall the hysteria surrounding the 2007 Mitchell report detailing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

There is an element of tragedy in Armstrong’s case, and in the case of all those using drugs to increase their athletic performances. These professional athletes, who train intensively to maximize their athletic output and who must thoroughly understand the strategies and technique involved in winning their various events, are under immense pressure to resort to drugs. No concern is given to either their immediate health or the long-term physical consequences.

Furthermore, no attention is being paid to the use of performance-enhancing drugs outside of professional sports. High school athletes are more and more pressed into doping as a way to win sports scholarships or entrance into the professional leagues. These may come with harsh physiological and psychological consequences. According to the Mitchell report, steroid users are at risk for “psychiatric problems, cardiovascular and liver damage, drastic changes to their reproductive systems, musculoskeletal injury, and other problems.” Users of human growth hormone are at risk for “cancer, harm to their reproductive health, cardiac and thyroid problems, and overgrowth of bone and connective tissue.”

Armstrong may well have cheated, but that should only be the departure point for a far wider social examination. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the pressures on cyclists and all professional athletes—in other words, into why there is such rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs. The true culprits, those in the corporate boardrooms directly or indirectly pushing athletes into taking drugs, should be held accountable.


Cycling's governing body agrees to strip Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles

GENEVA - Cycling's governing body agreed Monday to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life, following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his teams.

UCI President Pat McQuaid announced that the federation accepted the USADA's report on Armstrong and would not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The decision clears the way for Tour de France organizers to officially remove Armstrong's name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race would go along with whatever cycling's governing body decides and will have no official winners for those years.

USADA said Armstrong should be banned and stripped of his Tour titles for "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong.

Armstrong denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests. But he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency's arbitration hearings, arguing the process was biased against him. Former Armstrong team director Johan Bruyneel is also facing doping charges, but he is challenging the USADA case in arbitration.

On Sunday, Armstrong greeted about 4,300 cyclists at his Livestrong charity's fundraiser bike ride in Texas, telling the crowd he's faced a "very difficult" few weeks.

"I've been better, but I've also been worse," Armstrong, a cancer survivor, told the crowd.

While drug use allegations have followed the 41-year-old Armstrong throughout much of his career, the USADA report has badly damaged his reputation. Longtime sponsors Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch have dropped him, as have other companies, and Armstrong also stepped down last week as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer awareness charity he founded 15 years ago after surviving testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and brain.

Armstrong's astonishing return from life-threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story that transcended the sport. However, his downfall has ended "one of the most sordid chapters in sports history," USADA said in its 200-page report published two weeks ago.

Armstrong has consistently argued that the USADA system was rigged against him, calling the agency's effort a "witch hunt."

If Armstrong's Tour victories are not reassigned there would be a hole in the record books, marking a shift from how organizers treated similar cases in the past.

When Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory for a doping violation, organizers awarded the title to Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory after the doping disqualification of American rider Floyd Landis.

USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong's era.

The agency said 20 of the 21 riders on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been "directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations" or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists "similarly tainted by doping."

The world's most famous cyclist could still face further sports sanctions and legal challenges. Armstrong could lose his 2000 Olympic time-trial bronze medal and may be targeted with civil lawsuits from ex-sponsors or even the U.S. government. (let's just leave it at that)

In total, 26 people — including 15 riders — testified that Armstrong and his teams used and trafficked banned substances and routinely used blood transfusions. Among the witnesses were loyal sidekick George Hincapie and convicted dopers Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

USADA's case also implicated Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, depicted as the architect of doping programs, and longtime coach and team manager Bruyneel.

Ferrari — who has been targeted in an Italian prosecutor's probe — and another medical official, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, received lifetime bans.

Bruyneel, team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose "Pepe" Marti opted to take their cases to arbitration with USADA. The agency could call Armstrong as a witness at those hearings.

Bruyneel, a Belgian former Tour de France rider, lost his job last week as manager of the RadioShack-Nissan Trek team which Armstrong helped found to ride for in the 2010 season.


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USADA maintains that Armstrong has used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions -- all to boost his performance.

'It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes,' Mr Tygart said. 'It's a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There's no success in cheating to win.'

Armstrong declined to enter arbitration -- his last option -- because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof he was clean.

Comeback: Armstrong was given a 40 percent chance of survival after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer

'Innocent': Armstrong still claims he did not use performance enhancing drugs and says the charges against him are 'unconstitutional'

'There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, "Enough is enough." For me, that time is now,' Armstrong said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. He called the USADA investigation an 'unconstitutional witch hunt.'

'I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999,' he said. 'The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today -- finished with this nonsense.'

Armstrong's disgrace on Thursday marks the dizzying fall of an athlete who was regarded as a hero by millions because of his remarkable recovery from testicular cancer.

His foundation has raised some $500million through the sale of iconic 'Livestrong' bracelets, which were seemingly ubiquitous during Armstrong's heyday.

Although he had already been crowned a world champion and won individual stages at the Tour de France, Armstrong was still relatively unknown in the US until he won the epic race for the first time in 1999. It was the ultimate comeback tale: When diagnosed with cancer, doctors had given him less than a 50 percent chance of survival before surgery and brutal cycles of chemotherapy saved his life.

He was diagnosed with cancer in October 1996 and surgeons removed a tumor-ridden testicle during an emergency operation, though the tumors had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain.

Over the course of two months, he underwent extensive chemotherapy and surgery to combat the cancer.

By January 1998 -- one year after his chemotherapy ended -- he was back on the bike and aggressively training.

Glamor: Armstrong was briefly engaged to singer Sheryl Crow before he ended their three-year relationship -- one of several celebrities he was romantically linked with

Family: Lance Armstrong had a fourth child, Max, in 2010 with his girlfriend Anna Hansen, even though he thought he was sterile because of the cancer

Father: Armstrong has a son Luke and twin girls Isabelle and Grace with his ex-wife

Before his cancer, he had won several stages of the Tour de France in past years, but he attacked the race aggressively -- with new passion.

He forged a reputation for himself as a brutal competitor, forcing himself through grueling offseason workouts no one else could match, then crushing his rivals in the Alps and the Pyrenees during the Tour.

His comeback began in September 1998, when he came in fourth at the Vuelta a España -- one of cycling's three Grand Tours.

In 1999, he won the Tour de France and then continued winning it each of the next six years -- capturing the attention of Americans.

Cycling suddenly became popular and the week-long Tour was broadcast on American TV in its entirety.

Armstrong's riveting victories, his work for cancer awareness and his gossip-page romances with rocker Sheryl Crow, fashion designer Tory Burch and actress Kate Hudson made him a figure who transcended sports.

His dominance of the Tour de France elevated the sport's popularity in America to unprecedented levels. His story and success enabled him to enlist lawmakers and global policymakers to promote cancer awareness and research. His Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised nearly $500 million since its founding in 1997.

Champion: Armstrong developed worldwide recognition as a brutal competitor -- crushing the competition for seven years running

Grueling: Armstrong was known for horrific off-season workouts that were nearly unmatched by his competitors

Armstrong walked away from the sport in 2011 without being charged following a two-year federal criminal investigation into many of the same accusations he faces from USADA.

The federal probe was closed in February, but USADA announced in June it had evidence Armstrong used banned substances and methods -- and encouraged their use by teammates. 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 teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after a positive drug test. Landis' emails to a USA Cycling official detailed allegations of a complex doping program on the team.

USADA also said it had 10 former Armstrong teammates 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 refused to say who they are or specifically what they would say.

Extraordinary: Armstrong's seven straight Tour de France titles led to a surge in the interest in cycling in America and made him a sports icon

Turning: Former teammate Tyler Hamilton accused Armstrong of blood doping and said he had encouraged other members of his cycling team to dope, as well

'There is zero physical evidence to support (the) outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of (doping) controls I have passed with flying colors,' Armstrong said before the ruling.

Armstrong sued USADA in Austin, where he lives, in an attempt to block the case and was supported by the UCI, the sport's governing body. A judge threw out the case on Monday, siding with USADA despite questioning the agency's pursuit of Armstrong in his retirement.

'USADA's conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives,' such as politics or publicity, US District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.

Now the ultra-competitive Armstrong has done something virtually unthinkable for him: He has quit before a fight is over.

'Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities,' Armstrong said.

Armstrong could have pressed his innocence in USADA's arbitration process, but the cyclist has said he believes most people have already made up their minds about whether he's a fraud or a persecuted hero.

Hot water: Armstrong has faces questions about drug use and doping since the 1990s

Created in 2000, USADA is recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States. Its investigators joined US agents during the federal probe, Mr Tygart, the head of USADA had dismissed Armstrong's lawsuit as an attempt at 'concealing the truth.' He said the agency is motivated by one goal -- exposing cheaters in sport.

Others close to Armstrong were caught up in the charges: Johan Bruyneel, the coach of Armstrong's teams, and three members of the medical staff and a consultant were also charged. Bruyneel is taking his case to arbitration, while two medical team staffers and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari didn't formally contest the charges and were issued lifetime ban by USADA. Ferrari later said he was innocent.

In a sport rife with cheaters, Armstrong has been under constant suspicion since the 1990s from those who refused to believe he was a clean rider winning cycling's premier event against a field of doped-up competition.

He had tense public disputes with USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, some former teammates and assistants and even Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France.

Through it all, Armstrong vigorously denied any and all hints, rumors and direct accusations he was cheating. He had the blazing personality, celebrity and personal wealth needed to fight back with legal and public relations battles to clear his name - and he did, time after time.

Armstrong won his first Tour at a time when doping scandals had rocked the race. He was leading the race when a trace amount of a banned anti-inflammatory corticosteroid was found in his urine cycling officials said he was authorized to use a small amount of a cream to treat saddle sores.

Rally: Less than three years after his cancer diagnosis, Armstrong won his first Tour de France

After Armstrong's second victory in 2000, French judicial officials investigated his Postal Service team for drug use. That investigation ended with no charges, but the allegations kept coming.

Armstrong was criticized for his relationship with Ferrari, who was banned by Italian authorities over doping charges in 2002. Former personal and team assistants accused Armstrong of having steroids in an apartment in Spain and disposing of syringes that were used for injections.

In 2004, a Dallas-based promotions company initially refused to pay him a $5 million bonus for winning his sixth Tour de France because it wanted to investigate allegations raised by media in Europe. Testimony in that case included former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy, saying Armstrong told doctors during his 1996 cancer treatments that he had taken a cornucopia of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

Two books published in Europe, 'LA Confidential' and 'LA Official,' also raised doping allegations and, in 2005, French magazine L'Equipe reported that retested urine samples from the 1999 Tour showed EPO use.

Armstrong fought every accusation with denials and, in some cases, lawsuits against the European media outlets that reported them.

But he showed signs that he was tiring of the never-ending questions. Armstrong retired (for the first time) in 2005 and almost immediately considered a comeback before deciding to stay on the sidelines, in part, because he didn't want to keep answering doping questions.

Seven titles: These are the seven Tour de France victories that Lance Armstrong achieved -- more than any other racer in history

'I'm sick of this,' Armstrong said in 2005. 'Sitting here today, dealing with all this stuff again, knowing if I were to go back, there's no way I could get a fair shake - -on the roadside, in doping control, or the labs.'

But three years later, Armstrong was 36 and itching to ride again. He came back to finish third in the 2009 Tour de France.

Armstrong raced in the Tour again in 2010, under the cloud of the federal criminal investigation. Early last year, he quit the sport for good, but made a brief return as a triathlete until the USADA investigation shut him down.

During his sworn testimony in the dispute over the $5 million bonus, Armstrong said he wouldn't take performance enhancing drugs because he had too much to lose.

'(The) faith of all the cancer survivors around the world. Everything I do off the bike would go away, too,' Armstrong said then.

'And don't think for a second I don't understand that. It's not about money for me. Everything. It's also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. So all of that would be erased.'

LANCE ARMSTRONG MAINTAINS HE IS INNOCENT

Full statement by Lance Armstrong:

There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart's
unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today -- finished with this nonsense.

I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA's charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA's motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.

If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA's process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and - once and for all - put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to
support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?

From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own 8-year limitation. As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges.The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA's improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority. And as many others, including USADA's own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process. USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honor its obligations. At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully,
threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at US taxpayers' expense. For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach. On top
of all that, USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today.

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

USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. 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. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.

Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. 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. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.


Watch the video: Lance Armstrong - Best of 1990 - 2018 CYCLING MOTIVATION