Armstrong stripped of titles
Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and handed a lifetime ban by the US Anti-Doping Agency after electing not to contest doping charges brought against him.
- Related Content
The 40-year-old announced his decision on Thursday night and USADA quickly stated their intention to severely punish the American.
And they have confirmed those sanctions in a lengthy statement issued on their website.
It read: "USADA announced today that Lance Armstrong has chosen not to move forward with the independent arbitration process and as a result has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 through the present, as the result of his anti-doping rule violations stemming from his involvement in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy."
Armstrong, who was charged in June, sought a temporary restraining order against the agency's legal action but that was dismissed in a federal court in Austin, Texas on Monday.
USADA claim once that action failed Armstrong had until midnight on Thursday to contest the evidence against him in an arbitrary hearing, and was fully aware of the consequences of not doing so.
The statement continued: "Following the dismissal of Mr. Armstrong's lawsuit on Monday, August 20, 2012, by the federal court in Austin, Texas, Mr. Armstrong had until midnight on Thursday, August 23, to contest the evidence against him in a full evidentiary hearing with neutral arbitrators as provided by U.S. law.
"However, when given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him, and with full knowledge of the consequences, 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.
"As a result of Mr. Armstrong's decision, USADA is required under the applicable rules, including the World Anti-Doping Code under which he is accountable, to disqualify his competitive results and suspend him from all future competition."
The statement goes on to give details of some of the evidence USADA claim to have gathered against Armstrong.
Over a dozen witnesses, up to 10 of whom are believed to be former team-mates, agreed to testify and give evidence against Armstrong, who has never failed a drugs test.
Part of the statement claims USADA received evidence Armstrong was doping in 1996, prior to his battle with testicular cancer, which set his Tour triumphs in the most heroic of contexts, and in 2009, after making his return to the sport following his initial retirement.
It continued: "Numerous witnesses provided evidence to USADA based on personal knowledge acquired, either through direct observation of doping activity by Armstrong,or through Armstrong's admissions of doping to them that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and hGH through 1996.
"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."
Armstrong had dismissed the proceedings against him as a "witch hunt" in his own statement revealing his decision not to contest the action, claiming he did not feel the process was a fair one.
He said: "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 (USADA chief executive) 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 colours. 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?''
Despite USADA's statement, Armstrong could yet win a reprieve and hold on to his tour titles.
Armstrong, who claimed 22 stage wins during his Tour career, has made it clear he does not believes USADA have the jurisdiction to enforce their sanctions as the International Cycling Union (UCI) control drug testing in cycling, although that is clearly not a view shared by the American agency.
The UCI had challenged USADA's jurisdiction and have the option of appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ruling on Armstrong and their right to jurisdiction as the world governing body.
However, they stated on Friday they will wait to receive a communication outlining USADA's reasoning for their sanctions before deciding whether to take any action.
Amaury Sport Organisation, the Tour de France organisers, issued their own statement that they would be waiting for an outcome in any stand-off between USADA and the UCI before taking action.
It read: "The Tour de France has taken note of the latest elements of the proceedings between Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and will continue to closely monitor any new developments in this case.
"We are still waiting for important decisions to be taken by the competent authorities with responsibility for this matter, which are USADA and the International Cycling Union, before issuing any further comment."