Lance Armstrong Gives Up His Fight Against Doping Charges, And Possibly His 7 Tour de France Titles (UPDATE: USADA Says It Will Strip Armstrong Of Titles, Ban Him For Life)
UPDATE #1: The Associated Press is now reporting (via ESPN.com) that the USADA will indeed strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from cycling for life.
The AP is breaking that Lance Armstrong has given up his years-long fight against doping charges filed against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The cancer survivor and hero to many has long battled such charges, but citing the toll it's taken on him and his family, he is conceding. What does this mean for the seven-time Tour de France winner? Let the AP explain:
Armstrong, who retired last year, 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 of his innocence.
"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."
And here's the moneymaker:
USADA will almost certainly treat Armstrong's decision as an admission of guilt, and 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.
Damn. This is of course, something we expected to happen sooner or later, but now that we're here, it's time to soak it in. Armstrong hasn't admitted to anything, but like the above paragraph says, it's basically the beginning of the end for him. A guy who really hasn't been doping wouldn't attribute fatigue as the reason he gives up the fight against accusations he wants to believe are false. It seems Lance has found inner peace and has accepted a tarnished legacy, rather than endure years and years of prolonged frustration fighting accusations he wholeheartedly knows are true.
As for them titles, here's what's going down in the short term:
The agency can impose a lifetime ban and recommend Armstrong be stripped of his titles. That would put the question in the hands of the International Cycling Union, which has disputed USADA's authority to pursue the investigation and Tour de France officials, who have had a prickly relationship with Armstrong over the years.
Armstrong is using the same tired rhetoric that has transcended years of cheating athletes. He points to the evidence, to the dozens of passed drug tests. While that is all well and good, what isn't is that he is not making the outright claim that he has never doped. That's a guilty conscience — and soured blood — if you ask me.
[Associated Press, photo via Getty]
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