The heartwarming feel-good sports story of the past couple of decades closes on a rather depressing note today.
Lance Armstrong has abandoned the fight against doping charges during his incredible cycling career between 1999-2005.
The man who overcame life-threatening testicular cancer to do the unthinkable, winning seven straight Tours de France, will be stripped of his titles and banned from the sport of cycling for life.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart says the agency will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles for doping.
Armstrong on Thursday night dropped any further challenges to USADA’s allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs to win cycling’s premier event from 1999-2005.
Armstrong says USADA doesn’t have the authority to vacate his Tour titles. However, Tygart told The Associated Press that USADA can do it.
Armstrong will continue to say that this is not an admission of guilt, but rather a desire to avoid an arbitration process he deems unfair. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
The 40-year-old Armstrong walked away from the sport in 2011 without being charged after 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.
“It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes,” 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.”
It is indeed a sad day in sports, and yet another reminder that holding athletes up to heroic standards has its perils. Nobody – nobody can be assumed clean during the steroid era in sports.