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AP Exclusive: Lance Armstrong Won't Fight USADA Charges - could lose all TDF titles

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong said Thursday night he is finished fighting a barrage of drug charges from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, putting his unprecedented string of seven Tour de France titles at risk along with his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists in history.

The decision sets up a likely lifetime ban from the sport and the possibility that Armstrong will be stripped of his signature achievement — the extraordinary run of Tour titles he won from 1999-2005.

Armstrong, who retired last year, declined to enter arbitration — his last option — because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof of his innocence.

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, "Enough is enough." For me, that time is now," Armstrong said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. He called the USADA investigation an "unconstitutional witch hunt."

"I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999," he said. "The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today - finished with this nonsense."

USADA will almost certainly treat Armstrong's decision as an admission of guilt, and hang the label of drug cheat on an athlete who was a hero to thousands for overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer and for his foundation's support for cancer research.

The agency can impose a lifetime ban and recommend Armstrong be stripped of his titles. That would put the question in the hands of the International Cycling Union, which has disputed USADA's authority to pursue the investigation and Tour de France officials, who have had a prickly relationship with Armstrong over the years.

Armstrong insisted his decision is not an admission of drug use, but a refusal to enter an arbitration process he believes is improper and unfair to athletes facing charges.

"USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles," he said. "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."

USADA maintains that Armstrong has used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions — all to boost his performance.

The 40-year-old Armstrong walked away from the sport in 2011 without being charged following 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.

Included in USADA's evidence were emails written by Armstrong's former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after a positive drug test. Landis' emails to a USA Cycling official detailed allegations of a complex doping program on the team.

USADA also said it had 10 former Armstrong teammates ready to testify against him. Other than suggesting they include Landis and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom have admitted to doping offenses, the agency has refused to say who they are or specifically what they would say.

"There is zero physical evidence to support (the) outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of (doping) controls I have passed with flying colors," Armstrong said.

Armstrong sued USADA in Austin, where he lives, in an attempt to block the case and was supported by the UCI, the sport's governing body. A judge threw out the case on Monday, siding with USADA despite questioning the agency's pursuit of Armstrong in his retirement.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/08/23/sports/ap-cyc-armstrong-doping.html?_r=1&ref=sports

There's more in the article, but WOW.

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All these Tour de France doping stories feel very cyclical. :bigblush:

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I believe him that he wasn't doping to enhance his performance, but I feel like the things the agency is looking into as evidence of doping could have been as a result of his cancer treatment.

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they've been after him for years and have never had concrete proof. totally understandable that he's done fighting these guys, but it is far from an admission of guilt.

Innocent until proven guilty

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Lance Armstong's Statement of August 23, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas - August 23rd, 2012 - There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, "Enough is enough." For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart's unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.

I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA’s motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.

If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?

From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own 8-year limitation. As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges. The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA’s improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority. And as many others, including USADA’s own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process. USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honor its obligations. At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach. On top of all that, USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today.

The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced. The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It’s an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It’s just not right.

USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. 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. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.

Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do and I'm looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.

http://lancearmstrong.com/news-events/lance-armstongs-statement-of-august-23-2012

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If you notice he never says he never took steroids.

The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced.

That's not the same as saying you never took steroids or anything to enhance his performance. Big difference.

That's called a non-denial, denial.

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If you notice he never says he never took steroids.

The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced.

That's not the same as saying you never took steroids or anything to enhance his performance. Big difference.

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The 'punishment' now is to remove all titles, awards and the millions in monetary prizes. Of course, in order to get any money out of him, they'd likely have to take him to court, and with the judge already saying he didn't want to get involved despite disagreeing with some of the methods of the USADA so I don't imagine that going well.

He'd also be banned from coaching or assisting in any events governed by the same doping control agencies, which would include the Olympics. The International cycling board might appeal from what I'd read, if successful it would just leave US events still banned.

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There's a bunch of former teammates / trainers who the doping agency said would testify that he did participate in doping. I don't think all of these people would just be making this all up. He might have won even without steroids, but rules are rules.

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How can they strip him of everything if there's no proof that he was doping?

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Something tells me Usain Bolt may experience a similar fate at some point. I don't know - the guy doesn't seem legit to me.

I guess the question though is: is everyone doing it? And if everyone is doing it, is it still cheating or is it merely considered keeping up with the competition?

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Good. I always thought Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat. There may be no proof but the mere fact he's 'giving up' is all the proof I need. He ruined the TdF for me.

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Good. I always thought Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat. There may be no proof but the mere fact he's 'giving up' is all the proof I need. He ruined the TdF for me.

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Good. I always thought Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat. There may be no proof but the mere fact he's 'giving up' is all the proof I need. He ruined the TdF for me.

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I think it's ridiculous that they're trying this hard to investigate the matter. It can't be proven either way at this stage. Innocent until proven guilty; let the guy enjoy his retirement.

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They've spent years trying to build a case against him and they pretty much have nothing, maybe give up?

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They've spent years trying to build a case against him and they pretty much have nothing, maybe give up?

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If someone kept wanting to take you to court for something you were never proven of doing, then in that court case the judge ruled he didn't want to hear the complaint anymore, then those same people keep badgering you about it, wouldn't you waive them off too?

Innocent until proven guilty and there is no proof

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