AP Photo/Evan Agostini
AP Photo/Evan Agostini
After Lance Armstrong declared he would no longer fight charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his stellar career, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed Friday that it would strip the cyclist of all of his record-setting seven Tour de France titles, obliterate all his race results he's racked up over the past 14 years and ban him from the sport for life.
An agency spokeswoman told CNN that a more formal announcement will be issued later in the day, but the move to punish the now-retired sports legend is part of the USADA's zero-tolerance policy aimed at sending a message to athletes that they will face harsh consequences for doping in competition.
In addition to the lifetime ban, Armstrong will also have to give back the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics as well all other titles, awards and money he won starting from Aug. 1, 1998. He will also not be allowed to participate in any official capacity in any Olympic sport or sport that adheres to the World Anti-Doping Code.
The USADA says it based its decision on results of blood tests taken from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 as well as 10 eyewitnesses, including some former teammates, it claims are willing to testify that he took performance-enhancing drugs.
"It's a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes," the New York Times quoted Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, as saying.
Yesterday, the 40-year-old Armstrong posted a statement on his website saying "enough is enough" and that he wouldn't seek to take his case to arbitration, calling the process "one-sided and unfair" and citing the toll its taken on his family and his work for his cancer foundation.
He noted that there was "zero physical evidence" to support the USADA's "outlandish and heinous claims" that he cheated and stressed that he passed "hundreds" of blood and urine tests over the years in and out of competition "with flying colors." He also added that he would "no longer address this issue."
"I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours," Lance wrote.
Not everyone's on board with Armstrong's banishment. The Swiss-based International Cycling Union issued a statement saying it would refrain from commenting on the situation until it heard from the USADA as to why it's meting out such harsh sanctions. The organization had previously claimed jurisdiction over prosecuting Armstrong's doping, instead of the USADA.
After a number of celebrities expressed their support yesterday for Lance on Twitter, a few more have since weighed in on the controversy, among them Donald Trump:
• "Anyone who thinks Lance Armstrong would quit his doping defence if he wasn't guilty is living in cloud cuckoo land," opined CNN's Piers Morgan who clearly has his mind made up.
• "Lance Armstrong uses performance-enhancing drugs & loses his Trophies but Chris Brown uses auto-tune & keeps his Grammy," quipped actor John Fugelsang.
• "Don't care IF @lancearmstrong doped to win--thats IF--he's busted his tail 2 raise millions for @LIVESTRONGCEO & folks like me..Matters Most," wrote ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott.
• "Thank you @livestrong and @lancearmstrong for all you've done for us cancer survivors and future survivors! God Bless," offered former Access Hollywood host Pat O'Brien.