USADA to Strip Armstrong of Tour de France Titles
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Lance Armstrong says it’s over – and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency agrees.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says it will strip Armstrong of his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles after he declared he was finished fighting the drug charges that threaten his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, said Armstrong would also be hit with a lifetime ban on Friday.
Still to be heard from was the sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union, which had backed Armstrong’s legal challenge to USADA’s authority.
Armstrong says he will no longer fight the charges because he’s tired of it. Says Armstrong: “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now.”
Armstrong called the USADA investigation an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”
Armstrong’s longtime coach says the seven-time Tour de France winner is the victim of an “unjust” legal case that could cost him his victories in cycling’s greatest race.
Johan Bruyneel says he’s “disappointed” for Armstrong, who denies doping but chose to not pursue arbitration in the drug case brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Bruyneel says “Lance has never withdrawn from a fair fight in his life so his decision today underlines what an unjust process this has been.”
The Belgian has his own legal battle with USADA. He opted for arbitration to fight charges he led doping programs for Armstrong’s teams.
Bruyneel says that case “should never have gotten as far as it has.”
Meanwhile, the International Cycling Union says it will wait for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to explain why Lance Armstrong should lose his seven Tour de France titles before commenting on the case.
The sport’s governing body says it wants USADA to “submit to the parties concerned (Mr. Armstrong, WADA and UCI) a reasoned decision explaining the action taken.”
The UCI says the World Anti-Doping Code requires USADA to do this in cases “where no hearing occurs.”
The UCI and USADA have engaged in a turf war over who had jurisdiction for the case.
Alberto Contador has declined to comment on the possibility of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, instead paying tribute to his former teammate’s skill on the bike.
Contador, who hesitantly partnered Armstrong during the American’s comeback in 2009, says he has not followed the case and “I’m not thinking about it.”
The Spanish cyclist, speaking before the start of Friday’s seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta, says Armstrong “always showed such strength, great intelligence and spectacular physical conditioning.”