It is surely a sad time for sports fans all around the world. The legendary cyclist, Lance Armstrong, will be stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles and hence forth banned from the sport for life. The judgment was laid down after the cyclist made his decision to stop fighting drug allegations brought up by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
In a letter sent to the USADA on the 23rd, Lance’s attorney’s officially stated that he did not intend to seek any legal resolution outside of the court. As the allegations stand, the cyclist is being accused of not only using but also trafficking prohibited substances (Lance has reportedly stated that these allegations were all part of an “unconstitutional witch hunt”).
Throughout these proceedings, Lance has been quite open about his feelings in regards to the USADA’s allegations. He even remarked that he would have continued to battle the charges if he believed that there was any chance he would have been able to confront them in a fair setting.
According to the cyclist, the entire process so far has been unjust and one-sided. Lance’s final decision was made only three days after his bid to stop the USADA from proceeding with its case was thrown out by the federal judge in Austin, Texas (Lance Armstrong’s hometown).
Lance Armstrong triumphed at the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005, a standing world record for the most prestigious and storied race in this sport’s history. The man was diagnosed with testicular cancer early on in his career, but not even a bout with cancer could slow him down for long. Following his recovery, Lance decided to make a difference for cancer patients everywhere by starting Livestrong, his charity which has raised nearly half a billion for the fight against cancer.
Back in June, Lance was notified by the USADA that he, three doctors, and two officials who had been part of the U.S Postal Service racing team were going to be accused of not only using but also distributing prohibited drugs. According to the Colorado-based agency, the Colorado Springs, Lance had the option of letting an independent panel of arbitrators make a final decision on the matter.
Over the years, Lance has repeatedly denied any usage of banned substances, and it is noteworthy to state that the cyclist has never failed a drug test (many of them being random).
On August 20th, Lance’s lawsuit against the USADA was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. Judge Sparks stated that he would arbitrate the group’s allegations under the terms of Lance’s cycling contracts. However, Lance has publicly claimed that these proceedings were rigged, and that the USADA do not hold any authority over him.
Even though Sparks did reject Lance’s claims, the judge has reported that there seemed to be some troubling dimensions to the lawsuit filed against the USADA. For one, an international cycling federation has been behind Lance through this whole thing, even supporting his claims that the actions taken by the USADA inhibit his right to see and question the evidence being brought up against him before an arbitration hearing.
Plus, there have been a few conflicts of interest to come to light on the part of the agency.
Of course, this has not been the first time that Lance has faced doping allegations. A former teammate, Floyd Landis (who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title), accused Lance and several U.S. team officials of breaking doping regulations in 2010.
Another teammate of Lance’s, Tyler Hamilton accused him of using a blood boosting substance during his first Tour de France win in 1999. Hamilton himself tested positive for a blood boosting substance at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The International Olympic Committee ended up stripping Hamilton of his gold medal for the individual time trial that year.
In the end, Lance’s attorneys had these cases dropped because Landis and Hamilton could not be brought in as credible witnesses against the cyclist.
Lance officially retired from cycling in February 2011, but since then he had competed in a number of triathlons up until this summer. Due to the USADA allegations, Lance was officially banned in June from being able to participate in any event that was organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. This was another sad turn of events, given that Lance had started his career as a triathlete before making the move to cycling in the early 1990’s.
At the moment, Lance has chosen not to address the USADA case anymore, regardless of what unfolds next. In a final statement, Lance said “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. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.”