According to the World Anti-Doping Code, Armstrong will be stripped of his seven Tour titles, the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics and all other titles, awards and money he won from August 1998 forward.
Armstrong still denies that he has ever cheated the biking world, but his move today, to end his fight against the cheating charges, ostensibly to avoid a public hearing that would trot out a plethora of witnesses who would testify that he is lying about his denials, fairly or unfairly puts a taint on a tremendous life’s achievement.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Armstrong said in a statement. “For me, that time is now.”
Armstrong, who turns 41 next month, said he would not contest the charges because it had taken too much of a toll on his family and his work for his cancer foundation, saying he was “finished with this nonsense.”
It also means he will be barred for life from competing, coaching or having any official role with any Olympic sport or other sport that follows the World Anti-Doping Code. “It’s a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said. “It’s yet another heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition.”
As in many other high-profile doping cases — including that of the Olympic sprinter Marion Jones and other athletes involved in the sprawling Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative case, known as Balco — Tygart and the antidoping agency were basing their case not on a positive drug test but rather on other supporting evidence. Armstrong seized on that in his statement.
He said again and again that he had never tested positive — though he did test positive at the 1999 Tour for a corticosteroid, for which he produced a backdated doctor’s prescription.
Armstrong also said the case against him was flimsy without that physical evidence.
“Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims,” Armstrong said. “The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors.”
But even without a positive test, the antidoping agency appeared set to move forward with arbitration. It claimed to have more than 10 eyewitnesses who would testify that Armstrong used banned blood transfusions, the blood booster EPO, testosterone and other drugs to win the Tour. Some of Armstrong’s closest teammates, including George Hincapie — one of the most respected American riders — were also expected to testify against him.
The antidoping agency also said it had blood test results of Armstrong’s from 2009 and 2010 that were consistent with doping.
This is not the first time a top cyclist has suffered such a career implosion — it has been common in cycling in recent years, as doping has crippled the sport. Several recent Tour de France champions have been found guilty of doping, including the American rider Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador of Spain. But none of them had the stature of Armstrong.
I choose to believe that Armstrong didn’t cheat until further evidence. In the meantime, though, if this will take those Lycra wearing Lance Armstrong-wannabe biking faggots off the road, then, GUILTY!!!! (And then I blame Sheryl Crow)