Lance Armstrong, shown after his seventh Tour de France victory in 2005,… (Peter Dejong / Associated…)
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Friday disqualified famed cyclist Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles and imposed a lifetime competition ban “as a result of his anti-doping rules violations,” the agency announced.
“Mr. Armstrong chose not to contest the fact that he engaged in doping violations from at least August 1, 1998, and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions,” USADA wrote in a statement.
USADA said Armstrong, 40, had until midnight Thursday to contest evidence against him in an arbitration hearing.
Instead, Armstrong Thursday effectively surrendered the Tour titles he won from 1999-2005, announcing he was giving up his years-long fight against accusations he cheated to repeatedly win cycling’s greatest race.
“There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Armstrong, 40, wrote in a statement.
“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.”
USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart told The Times on Friday that he was confident “the truth would be revealed” in the arbitration process Armstrong rejected, contending USADA was poised to introduce details “bit by bit, piece by piece, fact by fact,” with test results and witnesses on call.
Armstrong never tested positive for performance-enhancing drug use during his races. USADA alleged it found evidence of blood-doping and steroid use, among other banned practices.
USADA repeated that the World Anti-Doping Code supports its jurisdiction to strip Armstrong of his Tour titles, despite the questioning of that power by Armstrong and the International Cycling Union.
The cycling group has asked USADA to explain its decision to strip, which Tygart said he will do.
“Anytime we have overwhelming proof of doping, our mandate is to initiate the case through the process and see it to conclusion as was done in this case,” Tygart said in the USADA statement.
USADA claimed “the evidence against Armstrong arose from disclosures made to USADA by more than a dozen witnesses who agreed to testify and provide evidence about their first-hand experience and/or knowledge of the doping activity of those involved in,” the U.S. Postal Service team “conspiracy, as well as analytical data.”
In June, USADA informed Armstrong of its intention to launch proceedings against him, his team director and three team doctors.
“Numerous witnesses provided evidence to USADA … that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period … and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and hGH through 1996,” according to the USADA statement. “Witnesses also provided evidence that Lance Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005.
“Additionally, scientific data showed Mr. Armstrong’s use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions during Mr. Armstrong’s comeback to cycling in the 2009 Tour de France.”
USADA identified Armstrong’s anti-doping violations as use, possession, trafficking , administration and covering up of banned substances and doping practices.
The International Cycling Union has adopted the World Anti-Doping Code.
USADA said in its statement: “In accordance with the code, aggravating circumstances, including involvement in multiple anti-doping rule violations and participation in a sophisticated doping scheme and conspiracy as well as trafficking, administration and/or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or method, justify a period of ineligibility greater than the standard sanction.
“Accordingly, Mr. Armstrong has received a lifetime period of ineligibility for his numerous anti-doping rule violations, including his involvement in trafficking and administering doping products to others.”
USADA also defended its right to revoke Armstrong’s victories from Aug. 1, 1998, forward.
“Because Mr. Armstrong could have had a hearing before neutral arbitrators to contest USADA’s evidence and sanction and he voluntarily chose not to do so, USADA’s sanction is final,” the agency wrote in its statement.
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