Lance Armstrong ends his fight; USADA strips him of 7 Tour de France titles

Lance Armstrong fought to beat testicular cancer, fought to win seven straight Tour de France titles, and fought to keep defending himself against continuous allegations of PED use, but on August 23, 2012, the cyclist surrendered in his fight with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. USADA took Armstrong’s decision not to enter arbitration regarding the doping charges he faced as an admission of guilt, and the agency stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from cycling for life.

Had Armstrong entered arbitration, he likely would have been forced to defend himself against overwhelming evidence of cheating.

According to The Associated Press, USADA had blood tests from 2009 and 2010 that showed Armstrong was blood doping. They also reportedly had 10 former Armstrong teammates ready to testify against him, including ones who said Armstrong encouraged them to cheat. They believe he has been doping and using various PEDs since 1996.

Armstrong sued USADA in hopes that a federal court would block the case from proceeding, but the case was thrown out on Monday. That must have been Armstrong’s last line of defense because he made the decision to stop fighting only three days later. My guess is he and his PR team knew that too much damaging information would be presented in arbitration, so they decided to stop the fight now in order to prevent the negativity.

Armstrong got to release a statement that accuses USADA of being a “bully” and makes the agency look like the bad guy. His statement declares he won the Tour de Frances on a level playing field.

There are some people who are such unabashed Lance Armstrong fans that they will believe anything he says, including his insistence that he never cheated. There are some people who believe he used his fame for such a good cause — the Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised $500 million — that they don’t care whether or not he cheated. There are those who believe he doped but don’t view it as cheating because cycling is such a dirty sport, they figure everyone was doing it and therefore he was on a level playing field. Then there are some people who believe that regardless of circumstance, cheating is unacceptable.

USADA chief Travis Tygart believes the latter. He released the following statement:

“It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes. This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition, but for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance enhancing drugs.”

Between what we know about how dirty cycling is, and the testimony of multiple former Armstrong teammates, I think you would have to be in serious denial to think he wasn’t doping. Whether you consider that cheating is a different argument, and whether you justify cheating because of his work with cancer research is a moral debate.

I’ve felt all along that Armstrong doped and either lied about it, or indirectly defended himself (boasting that you’ve passed a drug test does not mean you didn’t dope, Lance). I think his work with Livestrong is admirable, and that he used his fame for mostly noble causes. But I would have respected him more if he admitted the truth a long time ago rather than bash everyone who came after him. I view Lance Armstrong as an outstanding athlete who was a great inspiration for millions of people, and also a cheater.

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  • SpinMax

    The judge that did not allow the suit to go forward also thinks what the USADA is doing is improper.

    “USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real
    interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting
    according to less noble motives,” such as politics or publicity, U.S.
    District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.


  • bystander

    I’m not a hard-core sports fan, but I’m a little surprised that there isn’t something akin to a staute of limitations for this stuff.  I mean, it seems like there is enough money and energy put into testing the athletes’ blood, that it should not take 10 years or so to decide whether someone actually won a particular race.  If testing isn’t trustworthy, and what is really in store for the sport is decades-long investigations involving other athletes and their testimony and so on, then when can anyone consider a title or victory permanent or settled?  Seems crazy to me to strip an athlete of a victory earned a decade or so ago.

  • http://twitter.com/Scrapdo Matt Sovesky

    ^ Both reasonable posts. Now, tell us, do you think he cheated? If so, should he keep titles he won by cheating?

    Motives of investigators are things you bring up when you are guilty. They really mean nothing because it’s not investigators that decide your guilt.
    As for a S.O.L., these tests are from ’09 &10.  In addition to 10!!!! former teammates testimony. It’s pretty clear-cut but then again it has been for several years now. He’s the biggest fraud in sports history and it’s very sad.