After years of fighting for his name, brand and seven Tour de France titles, Lance Armstrong announced Thursday he would no longer battle the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s allegations. Rick Maese reported on the fallout of that decision, including USADA’s move to strip him of his titles, and ban him from cycling for life.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Friday it was banning cyclist Lance Armstrong for life and stripping him of his record seven Tour de France titles. In a news release, USADA said Armstrong’s decision not to take the charges against him to arbitration triggers the lifetime ban and forfeiture of his Tour victories from 1999 to 2005.
The International Cycling Union, which has been fighting with USADA over jurisdiction in the Armstrong matter, asked USADA to present its case against Armstrong. The Amaury Sport Organization, which runs the Tour de France, declined comment until a hearing with the cycling organization and USADA takes place.
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.
Not everyone agrees with the USADA. Reporter Tracee Hamilton explained why she is skeptical of the USADA’s findings, and questioned why athletes are administered drug tests if the results can be ignored.
I have always found the Lance Armstrong vs. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency fight a tough one in which to take a side, because there are no sides. This is a circle, and a vicious one at that, of accusations and denials and accusations and denials. To believe USADA, to me, meant suspending belief in the science of drug testing. To believe Armstrong meant going out on a limb with an athlete who is easy to admire as a person but who excelled in a sport where seemingly half the competitors were cheating.
Now that Armstrong has raised the white flag and said he’s dropping his fight against USADA, his detractors have declared that move an admission of guilt because no one with Armstrong’s fight would give up. USADA has declared victory and announced it would ban the retired cyclist for life — ouch! — and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles — more of an ouch, definitely.
Who, and what, are we supposed to believe? And if we, like Armstrong, just want to give up, are we guilty of something as well? Apathy? A double standard? Drug use?
Still, as Cindy Boren pointed out, while some of Armstrong’s supporters stand by him, the USADA’s actions have already begun taking a toll on his reputation.
And while Nike says it will stand by Armstrong, with whom it has the popular Livestrong brand, many others are not. Their disappointment with Armstrong, despite his denial of wrongdoing, is clear and palpable.
Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News remembered that when U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas sentenced sprinter Marion Jones to prison — yes, someone actually did time — for lying about her use of performance-enhancing drugs, he spoke of the worldwide lie that comes from “knowing that a razor-thin margin makes the difference” and not being “keenly aware and very careful about what he or she put in her body and the effects.” Lupica writes:
“Armstrong will try to make himself a victim. Say that he is a victim of the USADA and former teammates, had no chance to beat the rap, deck stacked against him, all that. He fought charges of being just another doper on a bike for a long time and now he stops fighting. Will try to make himself the Jim Thorpe of his sport, wrongly stripped of his titles the way Thorpe was stripped of his gold medals nearly 100 years ago in the Olympics.”