This series of photos shows seven file pictures clockwise from upper left taken in 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1999 of US cyclist Lance Armstrong posing on the podium on the Champs-Elysees in Paris after winning the Tour de France cylcing race. AFP photo
The United States Anti-Doping Agency stripped cyclist Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles on Friday, erasing one of the most incredible achievements in sports after deciding he had used performance-enhancing drugs to do it.
Armstrong, who retired a year ago, was also hit with a lifetime ban from cycling. An athlete who became a hero to thousands for overcoming cancer and for his foundation’s fight against the disease is now officially a drug cheat in the eyes of his nation's doping agency.
In a news release, USADA said Armstrong’s decision not to take the charges against him to arbitration triggers the lifetime ineligibility and forfeiture of all results from August 1, 1998, through the present, which would include the Tour de France titles he won from 1999 through 2005.
“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 August 1, 1998 through the present,” the USADA said in a statement.
USADA said in June it had evidence that Armstrong used banned substances, including information supplied by former teammates. Armstrong accused USADA of launching an “unconstitutional witch hunt” against him as he declined to pursue procedures that could take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The American doping body claimed Armstrong used banned substances, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids, as well as blood transfusions dating back to 1996.
It also says it has 10 former Armstrong teammates who were ready to testify against him. Armstrong argued that USADA was usurping the jurisdiction that should belong to world cycling's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, sued in federal court to try to halt USADA's proceedings, but the case was dismissed on Monday.
He said he passed hundreds of drug tests during his career and that he adhered to the rules that were in place at the time of his Tour de France wins.
“The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and USADA when I raced,” Armstrong wrote.
You can read Lance Armstrong's statement here
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Timeline: Armstrong vs USADA
Lance says | Hero to zero, all in a lifetime | Armstrong files