Legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong has decided not to continue the fight against the drugs charges against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), thus obscuring all his seven Tour de France titles.
In a statement issued to the press, Armstrong announced that he would no longer continue the fight against USADA who claimed that he used power-enhancing drugs during the term of his career. This eventually resulted in the USADA stripping Armstrong of all his seven Tour de France titles, and to top it a lifetime ban on the cyclist.
Armstrong said that "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, "Enough is enough." 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. 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."
His decision took the cycling community by storm as noted by Johan Bruyneel, one of the earlier director of the two teams with whom Armstrong won four titles. "Today, I'm disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general that things have reached a stage where Lance feels that he has had enough and is no longer willing to participate in USADA's campaign against him," Bruyneel said in his blog.
On the other hand, it seems that the USADA achieved something of a great victory. Travis Tygart, chief executive of USADA told the Washington Post that "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."
Armstrong is not the first sportsperson admitted in such a case. A similar treatment was meted to famous sprinter Marion Jones (former World Number One) and Justin Gatlin among others.( List of people banned )
An emotional Armstrong posted: "The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It's an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It's just not right."
Whether it was case of a grudge against Armstrong is too early a statement to make. But the legendary cyclist said he will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances and promised that he will commit himself to the work he began before ever winning a single Tour de France title that is to serve the people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities.