Lance Armstrong will not continue his legal fight against U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charges that he cheated to win his seven Tour de France titles. And the USADA says that it will now proceed with stripping Armstrong of all seven of those championships and ban him for life.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Armstrong had until midnight Thursday "to tell USADA whether he planned to fight doping charges through arbitration," and he has decided not to pursue a fight against the charges.
In a statement Armstrong said:
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 (USADA chief executive) Travis Tygart.”
Armstrong's long battle against doping charges took on a new tenor when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officially charged him on June 28, recommending a lifetime ban from cycling and a stripping of all seven of his Tour de France titles.
In July, the saga intensified when Armstrong filed a restraining order (that was quickly dismissed) against what he dismisses as a quasi-governmental agency, arguing that the doping accusations and investigation were unconstitutional — a violation of Armstrong's Fifth Amendment rights. He called it all the result of a personal "vendetta" against him.
The USADA says it has 10 former Armstrong teammates who would testify against the international icon and back up the doping charges.
Tygart calls Armstrong's decision to not fight the charges — which will be seen as an admission of guilt in the USADA's eyes — "heartbreaking."
Armstrong's statement can be read in full on his website.