“Lance Armstrong is banned from cycling for life. If you see him on a bike, please knock him off and then shout, ‘NO!’ right in his face.”
This is just one sentiment shared by Twitter user @johnmoe and sure to be echoed by many, in response to the news that Lance Armstrong has surrendered his seven Tour de France titles by opting not to fight allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his decorated cycling career.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Chief Executive Travis Tygart announced Thursday that he was still waiting to hear Armstrong’s formal response to the charges, but that his decision not to proceed would leave Armstrong to face a lifetime competition ban and be stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles won between 1999 and 2005, as well as his 2000 Olympic bronze medal.
Armstrong, 40, announced that he was giving up his years-long fight against the USADA in an official statement emailed to various news sources, though he never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during his career.
“Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt,” he said. “…If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting…I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”
Armstrong continued, arguing the charges were backed by “zero physical evidence” and were completely “outlandish and heinous” in nature. But despite his will to continue fighting the USADA, he’s finally given up.
“The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our [cancer] foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense. There comes a point in every man’s life when ‘enough is enough,'” said Armstrong. “For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999.”
Though it may seem insincere to Armstrong, Tygart issued a statement expressing his disappointment in the final outcome of the investigation. “It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes. 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. For clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”
Like many who have cheered Armstrong on throughout his legendary cycling career that included a brutal but victorious fight with cancer, I’m deeply saddened by this news. In fact, I may never look at the star athlete’s Livestrong organization the same again. While some are left angry, I can’t help but imagine what a great embarrassment this is to Armstrong and his family. Whether fans and critics would admit it or not, nobody truly wanted to see such a heroic athlete take a tumble like this. We just hope others learn from his fall.