• Cycling

Armstrong gives up fight against doping charges

ESPN staff
August 24, 2012
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times between 1999 and 2005

Lance Armstrong is set to be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after announcing that he will not fight charges filed against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

While the American maintained his innocence, he said he was "finished with this nonsense" and would not dispute doping charges.

"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. "I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999."

Armstrong, 40, has always denied doping claims against him but admitted defeat from what he described as a "witch hunt" by USADA chief executive Travis Tygart.

"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."

He added: "Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances."

The USADA have confirmed they will strip him of all results since August 1998 and ban him from competition for life.

"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes," Tygart said. "This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition."

Armstrong, who was charged in June, failed to block an investigation into whether he took performance-enhancing drugs by a US federal court.

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 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?"

Armstrong, who says he will now dedicate himself to his family and his Livestrong cancer foundation, claims he will always be remembered as a champion, regardless of whether he is stripped of his titles.

"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 team-mates 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."

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