Armstrong backed by Ochowicz
Lance Armstrong has earned every victory he has achieved over the course of his career despite his decision not to contest doping charges, according to long-time friend Jim Ochowicz.
Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France and one of the most high-profile athletes on the planet, has opted not to challenge the US Anti-Doping Agency's charges against him, claiming to be "finished with all this nonsense" after a long-running battle against allegations of cheating.
As a result, the USADA have stripped him of all his titles and imposed a lifetime ban, although that still has to be ratified by the sport's governing body, who could take the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Until then, though, questions remain over Armstrong's previously illustrious legacy, but Ochowicz, who has mentored Armstrong throughout his career and is the current manager of BMW Racing, is not buying in to that.
"I think Lance did a lot for the sport. We're all grateful to him for what he's done. I think he's earned every victory he's had," he said in a statement.
"It's a tough day for cycling but we're going to carry on from here. I'm a friend of Lance's. I support his decision to call it. He's done so much for our sport over the years.
"I'm sad about what's transpired but at the same time, I wish him luck with his family. I love them, I love him."
Armstrong, who was charged along with five associates 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 revealed that over a dozen witnesses, up to 10 of whom are believed to be former team-mates, had agreed to testify against Armstrong.
It also claimed the 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.