Armstrong can still hold out hope that he’ll ultimately be able to retain his Tour de France titles, as race organizers and the international cycling body wrestle with USADA over who has the authority to strip the cyclist of his wins.
“They don’t unilaterally have the authority because they didn’t award them,” Armstrong’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said of USADA.
In an interview Friday, Luskin, reiterated that the cyclist’s decision to bow out of the fight against USADA is not an admission of guilt to any doping charges.
Allegations have become so frequent over the years that Luskin likened it to “an endless game of whack-a-mole.”
“Every time he bangs one over the head, another pops up,” Luskin said. “He just doesn’t see it ending.”
Luskin said even though Armstrong is deciding not to fight USADA, he doesn’t expect a simple conclusion to the proceedings. Armstrong’s legal team will moniter from afar the actions of the cyclists’ union and USADA, Luskin said. “There are many forks in the road. Lance isn’t going to take any of them,” he said.
USADA’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, said the Armstrong case serves as a lesson to competitors.
“Nobody wins when an athlete decides to cheat with dangerous performance enhancing drugs, but clean athletes at every level expect those of us here on their behalf, to pursue the truth to ensure the win-at-all-cost culture does not permanently overtake fair, honest competition” he said in a statement. “Any time 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 and USADA charge that Armstrong’s wins, which made him a global sports icon following his battle against cancer, were aided by banned substances, including steroids and blood doping.
In deciding to give up his fight, Armstrong still maintained his innocence, saying the wins were legitimate and within the rules.
“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 Thursday night.
Armstrong called the USADA investigation an “unconstitutional witch hunt” and said he saw no reason to participate in any further proceedings that might clear his name.
“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,” Armstrong said. “But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”