News24

Armstrong banned for life

2012-08-24 18:06

Colorado Springs - The US anti-doping agency banned Lance Armstrong for life on Friday, stripping him of the record seven Tour de France titles that helped him become an inspirational icon of US sports.

Lance Armstrong: Official statement

Lance Armstrong: Factfile

Lance Armstrong: Chronology

USADA branded Armstrong a dope cheat a day after the 40-year-old Texan said he would not pursue a bid to clear himself of charges that he used performance enhancing drugs to win cycling's most prestigious race from 1999 to 2005.

The agency laid out five rule violations for which Armstrong has been sanctioned, saying the cancer survivor who became a hero to millions took part in a systematic doping conspiracy with his then US Postal Service team.

It said that, as Armstrong has dropped out of an arbitration process, he "has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 through the present".

Along with his celebrated haul of Tour titles, Armstrong stands to lose the Olympic bronze medal he won in 2000 along with other race titles, prize money and other awards.

The International Cycling Union, the sport's governing body based in Aigle, Switzerland, had been fighting USADA for jurisdiction over Armstrong's case and said on Friday it wanted to see USADA's full explanation for the sanctions before acting.

However, USADA's statement made it clear they believe the UCI is bound by the World Anti-Doping Code to back up its findings.

"Because Mr. Armstrong could have had a hearing before neutral arbitrators to contest USADA's evidence and sanction and he voluntarily chose not to do so, USADA's sanction is final," the agency's statement said.

Armstrong had long denied accusations of doping but said on Thursday he would no longer even address the issue.

"Today I turn the page," he said. But hours after USADA's announcement on Friday he made it clear that doesn't mean he'll disappear, tweeting his intention to compete in a local mountain bike race in the Aspen area in Colorado called the Power of Four.

"Excited to be racing the #poweroffour tomorrow here in @AspenCO," Armstrong tweeted, apparently confident of a warm welcome from the local cycling community.

Certainly Armstrong had already received support from leaders of the anti-smoking and anti-cancer causes that he champions, and from sports apparel giant Nike.

"Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors," the firm said.

Armstrong, who has branded the USADA probe a "witch hunt, had gone to court in a bid to block the agency's proceedings.

But on Monday a federal judge in his hometown of Austin dismissed his lawsuit, leaving Armstrong until midnight on Thursday to tell USADA whether or not he would seek arbitration.

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

"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."

USADA maintains that Armstrong used banned substances - including the blood-booster EPO, steroids and blood transfusions - dating back to 1996, and said 10 of his former teammates were ready to testify against him.

If the UCI confirms the move, it faces a potential headache of choosing new winners for the seven disputed tours, as a number of cyclists who finished behind the American have also been implicated in doping scandals.

Indeed, Armstrong has argued that at least some of the witnesses who have implicated him cannot be trusted as they are themselves admitted dope cheats.

Former team-mate Floyd Landis, who finally admitted doping years after he was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, accused Armstrong of systematic doping, helping trigger a federal government probe of Armstrong and others.

That investigation ended in February with no criminal charges brought, but it apparently provided further impetus to USADA's probe of the cyclist.

USADA said it also had blood tests taken from 2009-2010, when Armstrong briefly came out of retirement to compete internationally again, that were "fully consistent" with blood doping.

Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, said he passed hundreds of drug tests during his career and adhered to the rules in place at the time of his Tour de France wins.

"I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair," he said, alleging that from the start the probe had been "about punishing me at all costs."

However, World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey said Armstrong's decision not to fight the charges could only be seen as an admission of guilt.

"There can be no other interpretation," he said.

AFP

Comments
  • tooka.loosh.5 - 2012-08-24 18:13

    Witch hunt successful.

      faizieishlah.shabalala - 2012-08-24 18:34

      Perhaps you would like to look at Pierre Spies photos just before he couldnt go to the previous world cup and what he looks like now.

      press.enter.12 - 2012-08-24 18:56

      @faizieleishlah . . . . and what is your particular interest in trying to besmirch someone who gets regularly tested ? - please declare your interests

      edwin.i.jay - 2012-08-24 19:16

      So he used steroids in pro cycling....who doesn't. I will bet that more 90% of those guys are pumping something. The other 10% are the guys that are always last. Thanks USADA for proving something that everybody already knows. Sorry for your titles loss Lance, but you are still a hero. All the best

      andrew.hendrikse - 2012-08-24 19:21

      he is guilty as charged!! as are all of those cycling types!!

      squeegee.pilot - 2012-08-24 19:21

      Steroid or drug use should be severely punished. Young sportsmen must enter their disciplines knowing that they will be tested and banned. Just because he was popular does not excuse Amstrong.

      rontheogre - 2012-08-24 19:36

      The puzzling part is that in the last 500 drug tests Armstrong has always tested free of performance enhancing drugs. USADA has for the past 2 years suggested that they have firm evidence of doping, including drug tests and witness accounts, but nothing has been brought to the table as of this morning.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-08-25 08:41

      Press centre - Spies had a 'life threatening disease' and made a recovery - unless his middle name is Shabir there was something going on there.

      press.enter.12 - 2012-08-25 08:52

      @Goyourgoodthing - Really - you the Doctor that treated him ? - Idiot

  • nicholas.graan - 2012-08-24 18:17

    It just doesn't seem as if this thing has been seen through to a proper and satisfactory conclusion.

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-08-24 18:53

      Armstrong - positive for dope-testing - stripped of titles and banned for life. South African ministers and government leaders - positive for bribery, corruption - stripped of.............? oh sorry, NOTHING. Difference between sport and sports

      mark.barker.370 - 2012-08-24 19:15

      @Cristelle - Armstrong has never tested positive for doping. The case against him is just the evidence of disgruntled persons.

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-08-24 19:33

      Thanks for that Mark, never completely followed the story - but you get the point......

  • veldt66 - 2012-08-24 18:22

    Maybe Neil Armstrong doped his way to the moon too!

      freda.coetzee - 2012-08-24 18:55

      he he thats funny

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-08-24 18:24

    So nepotism and jealousy conquers cycling, now let us wait for the rest, athletics, rugby, soccer, etc.

  • Dakey - 2012-08-24 18:26

    Only problem is that the US Anti-Doping Agency does not have the authority to strip him of his tour de France titles... they have zero authority in this matter. The event is after all held in FRANCE. Journalism guys, please.

      johnwoodman8 - 2012-08-25 03:53

      But he would be registered as a pro athlete in the US. Just because a person takes part in events in other countries doesn not mean they are no longer under control of their home nation sporting bodies...

      sheik.mohammad.378 - 2012-08-25 18:42

      Those who are pointing fingers are not squeeky clean, how can they trust the word of drug addicts. Love to know how they going the handle all the replays of the Tour-de-France.

  • sue.mannerswood - 2012-08-24 18:27

    Lance is still my hero. If cancer drugs are considered performance-enhancing, then so be it!!!

      neilza - 2012-08-24 18:34

      totally agreed. lance armstrong to me is still the 7 times TDF champion in my mind

      karen.reis.146 - 2012-08-24 18:51

      You can strip dem medals but you can't strip him of his heroic achievements ! ! ! !

      shannonlea.archer - 2012-08-24 20:00

      Agreed. U telling me current riders are not the same. u can't do 55 kms an hour without drugs.

      roy.siebritz1 - 2012-08-25 06:19

      you guys are all idiots,,,,,theres no smoke without fire..........you all probably believe that Michael Jackson never ever touched those kids because it was never proved in court.He is no hero of mine.The fact that he chooses not to have his day in court says everything.

  • Forest Gump - 2012-08-24 18:33

    i remember feeling in a awe after he won the tour after beating cancer. He remains a sporting hero an a legend to me. They proved nothing.

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-08-24 18:38

    Oh, the USA strips him of his Tour de France winnings! What does France say or are we dealing with another case of Yankee imperialism?

  • jayjay.talbot - 2012-08-24 18:42

    Bleeding hearts... all the armstrong supporters... if he was innocent he should not have given up the fight.. they can take his medals but let them take his pride too? there was too much evidence and by letting it go he is saving himself further embarassment... most sports are tainted with doing these days. I say embrace it... make it no holds barred, lets push the envelope a bit 'cos sport is getting boring... they should have parallel steroid events.... like imagine olympics with 7 seconds in the 100m and then as the muscleridden freak crosses the line it explodes... or tour de droogs, heads popping, calves oozing luminous nuclear waste... which would you pay to watch?

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-08-24 18:50

    What a sad day for sport! This is wrong on so many levels. Hope they feel proud of destoying years of blood sweat and tears. You will still shine for all the good you do Lance!

      Hercules Leonardo Giorgino - 2012-08-24 18:53

      Don't you mean drugs, sweat and tears Shirley.

  • andrew.hendrikse - 2012-08-24 18:52

    he obviously cheated

      tooka.loosh.5 - 2012-08-24 20:50

      Oh, obviously douchbag! He is one of the most tested sportsmen in history, and never failed ONE of them. When all it takes to make it so, is the say so of a-holes like you, then there is no point fighting any longer.

  • siphiwo.maurice - 2012-08-24 18:55

    If Lance's case has been properly handled and justified, then he must be a man, accept the ruling. If you do something that is illegal, please, accept the results and be a man. We appreciate the work he has done, raising cancer awareness and for his survival, which speaks volumes of his mental fitness. But, today, as declared by the USADA, Lance, must bow out.

  • NickvanderLeek - 2012-08-24 19:09

    before you applaud too loudly, how is there a difference between using something like EPO to improve your blood, and Oscar Pistorius wearing lower legs to help him run faster, or an asthmatic using sanctioned asthma drugs that improve lung capacity?

      tooka.loosh.5 - 2012-08-24 21:02

      . It would be like comparing someone without a brain - like.... Oh, idk,...you! - taking IQ enhancing tablets .

      nschutt - 2012-08-24 21:17

      Because moron, Oscar Pistorius is a double amputee. Think before opening your mouth.

  • gordon.marc - 2012-08-24 19:15

    The USADA and their chief executive Travis Tygart are a bunch of twats (I actually have far worse words in my head) if you ask me. They have basically had a personal vendetta or need of public headlines and fake fame to attempt to totally destroy a legend that has done so much for sport and humanity as a whole - and all this done of hearsay with absolutely no physical proof. What makes it worse is that this same agencies "witnesses" are all basically athletes that have been proven (yes PROVEN) fraudsters and enhancement drug users who have been given lighter sentences to testify! All that is left to say is WTF! Long live the legend - Lance Armstrong you rule and your legacy will always live on!

  • callie.cilliers - 2012-08-24 19:16

    The man is a cheat.He deprived a possible clean athlete of the honour he got.Accept it as fact

      hamish.drake1 - 2012-08-24 19:21

      And you are depriving us of oxygen

      sheik.mohammad.378 - 2012-08-25 18:56

      And how are they going to benefit from this? The first prize now goes to the person who cheated to get second place......get real.

  • morne.nortier.98 - 2012-08-24 19:20

    So he is banned not through evidence or fact, but what others say about him? Some of them cutting deals to save their own backsides? Yeah sounds solid.

  • CrissyGreig - 2012-08-24 19:22

    The USADA need to take their finger out and give their brains an airing! Take a long hard look at how many others u have missed.

  • gideon.rossouw - 2012-08-24 19:27

    He has never tested positive for doping, so this is completely ridiculous. Just because some people (who may well be jealous of his achievements) made allegations, is no reason to strip him of his titles. It is possible, especially after his cancer, that he used steroids to get back into shape, but even that has not been proven. So this is just a witch hunt. If the witch floats, she is a witch, If she sinks, (and drowns) she is not a witch, just dead. Positively Medieval!

  • christopher.lourens - 2012-08-24 19:30

    I am missing something? If all his tests in the past for clear and OK, how are they building a case against him? The USADA seem to be building a case on witness accounts and hearsay evidence (most of it probably given by Floyd Landis, who really isn't the best character witness). If so how is it possible that they can make the case stick? Lance not wanting this to go ahead with independent arbitration, does make it seem that there may just be some truth to the claim. If it was me I would have fought the findings! And now because Lance is calling it quits, they strip him of everything! And seemingly, without having rock solid evidence? Personally, I always wondered if there was something behind his dominance. My mind still isn't made up, but they way this case unfolded is just too weird????

  • denise.labuschagne.54 - 2012-08-24 19:47

    loser!

  • shane.griffiths.94 - 2012-08-24 19:55

    i really believe that the easiest thing in the world to do is judge others. One thing i can say with 100% certainty about myself - i am not perfect

  • Perfume5 - 2012-08-24 20:00

    Do these so called "witnesses" have solid evidence????

  • Gift Moyo - 2012-08-24 20:09

    Cyclists should now ride for the love of the sport. The monies at stake are ruining the sport. Most of the champs have been caught doping at some point.

  • Skwertno1 - 2012-08-24 20:12

    The next one that these MOFO's go at will be Greg Lamond, watch I agree with one comment here, who the hell do the yanks (USADA) think they are, UCI and not them govern cycling world wide.... Historically, only Europeans have won the TDF, so here comes Greg and Lance and whats his name Landau, and they ride the Italians and French into the Alps..... DRUGS Its Pathetic..... You know what Lance has so much money he could stage his own race against the rest and still beat the pants off them all.....

  • ian.mirk - 2012-08-24 20:28

    I detest commenting on News24 but this is so upsetting. To strip an icon of his titles based on unproven allegations is so wrong. In any real court allegations have to be proven, but his refusal to contest any longer now results in the loss of every sporting thing the man fought for. Shame on you USADA. May your little power-mad witch-hunters rot. Lance . . . you rock!

  • basiladams.basil - 2012-08-24 20:31

    I would love 2see if we could have the same probe into Bruce Fordyce!! How can a man win all those titles up run and down run ? Nick Bester done or tried it but was caught out lol and this year the dude that won it was found out just saying!!!!

      shane.griffiths.94 - 2012-08-25 09:24

      Basil how many marathons did you run?

  • ninjacraig - 2012-08-24 20:56

    He never once got tested positive over so many years and tests but now because he is tired of fighting these claims they assume he's guilty?! Travis Tygart seems like some jealous douche wanting revenge because he could never be anywhere near successful in life as Armstrong. Armstrong has raised over $500m through his fund which has helped thousands of cancer patients around the world. Even if there is some evidence, such as allegations, he is the last person that they should be wasting their time, money and resources on.

  • alexander721 - 2012-08-24 21:00

    Where are the samples that show he failed. You would think that "masking agents" from ten years ago would have improved by now so how is that someone these days is easily identified (point in question...frank Schleck 2012 tour de france). Also, Lance was tested during the off season on unannounced dates yet he passed. But here is the kicker.............. ICU is totally independant from the USADA so what ever agreement that was reached between these so called witnesses would have been null and void with ICU. SO the likes of George Hincappie and Valverde would never have been allowed to race in this years tour, they would have been banned by the ICU yet they were not...................there is more going on than meets the eye. And i think it would be very premature to believe what we are reading in the press at the moment. Yes, i am a Lance Armstrong fan , but that does not mean that i have "blinkers" on. FActs are facts. Even the courts said that the case by ASADA was/is very weak, but the law is the law, that is why Armstrongs petition was turned down, not because UASDA had sufficient evidence. WHy did they not produce or share the so called evidence before hand if it was so strong..............................

  • KLSmith51 - 2012-08-24 21:28

    No positive tests says Lance Armstrong will be the greatest ever. Definite reduced viewing of cycling in the future. Give that USADS d..s n bell's with EPO in.

  • nschutt - 2012-08-24 21:30

    Just because Armstrong has given up fighting, doesn't prove he is guilty. The guy is tired of having to prove his innocence only for the next power tripping moron trying to prove that he is a doper and cheat. They'll never stop with him, there'll always be questions and accusations. Whatever is said and done, cheat or not, this guy still raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research and is an icon for cancer sufferers and survivors all over the world.

  • rinus.groeneveld.7 - 2012-08-24 21:34

    Horses for courses. Spies came back. Olympic athletes came back to compete after several years' bans. The rules change, Cameron did an extra kick ... so did everyone else. Just leave Lance be...

  • lodewyk.fred - 2012-08-24 21:58

    Always said he is either the world greatest athlete or the world biggest fraud.

  • marius.croucamp.3 - 2012-08-24 22:01

    No arbitration, no evidence...the International Cycling Unions requested the evidence from the USADA and they refused.The world body might have the final say and Lance Armstrong could be found innocent after all.

  • Ruben.Pena.2000 - 2012-08-25 06:40

    Witch Hunt successful, initiated by hundreds of other cyclists that were nothing more than JEALOUS and therefore CHILDISH at Lance Armstrong's career success. Is there a test for exposing the "masking agents" that he supposedly used to cover-up his actions? If so, this would be the silver bullet that EITHER clears him of al charges, OR absolutely condemns him as guilty as charged, given that the 500+ blood and urine samples that were taken from Lance Armstrong ever since 1998 are still in a cryogenic frozen state in Labs throughout France and the USA. Regardless, since 90% of all cyclists used performance enhancing techniques to get an edge during the Tour de France race, then all he was doing was leveling the playing field to have a fair chance against everyone else in the field that was doing the exact same thing during the races. Therefore, in this regard, he is absolutely definitely still the BEST CYCLIST of ALL TIME -- and in the hearts and minds of billions of sports fans around the world, no-one can EVER take that away from Lance Armstrong. God Bless and Live Strong and Fearless - Ruben

  • philip.mostert.14 - 2012-08-25 07:16

    Read hes statement he says he never used! Just tired of being accused and wants to spend hes time more productively. Lance is still a champion!

  • winston.mullany - 2012-08-25 08:10

    I couldn't care less if they stripped him of the titles at the end of the day he still won them. Why be dragged through something like this, if he used or not, back in those years ago so many people did it so why pin him out? Its because he won the titles and now they want a scapegoat to prove a point. To me he will always be one of the greatest, on and off the road. There are so many banned substances you need a damned medical dictionary everytime you compete.

  • Peter Zylstra - 2012-08-25 14:00

    Without the drugs and the assistance of his team mates he would never have won 7 times. He is a cheat!

      falco.krenz - 2012-08-25 17:02

      Dude, Cycling a big tour is a TEAM-Effort...

  • Adil Smit - 2012-08-25 15:50

    The US anti-doping agency apparently does not have the power to do that. Only the International Cycling Agency or the Tour de France organisers can.

  • Modipi Ngulube - 2012-08-25 16:22

    Schumacher better watch out

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