Armstrong hits the headlines

2012-08-24 16:47

London - No matter the language, it was the same story for Lance Armstrong across Europe on Friday morning.

"Armstrong si arrende. Perdera i 7 Tour," wrote Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport - "Armstrong gives up. Loses the 7 Tours."

The American cyclist decided on Thursday to stop fighting the doping authorities determined to prove he is guilty of cheating his way to a record seven Tour de France titles. A short time later, the US Anti-Doping Agency said it would strip Armstrong of his Tour titles and ban him for life.

Although the news came too late to make the print editions, many European newspapers were full of stories about Armstrong on their websites.

"'Assez, c'est assez,'" read a headline on the website of French sports daily L'Equipe - a direct translation of the American cyclist's quote of "Enough is enough."

"As a result (of his decision), they're going to take away his seven Tour de France titles," wrote L'Equipe, the same paper that has reported doping allegations against Armstrong in the past.

"Cycling bombshell," headlined the Guardian on its main page, followed by, "Lance Armstrong drops fight against doping charges."

In the Daily Mirror, the focus was back on Armstrong's record of winning the world's most prestigious cycling race from 1999-2005.

"Lance Armstrong to be STRIPPED of seven Tour de France titles and banned for life as he stops fight against doping charges," the Mirror wrote.

On Greek website, a photo of Armstrong pulling at his shirt collar while wearing a suit and tie ran over the headline "Apokathilosi!" Loosely translated as "Knocked off his pedestal," the Greek word is used to refer to Jesus Christ being taken down from the cross.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet opted for the more secular "Deprived of all Tour de France titles."

USADA maintains that Armstrong used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions - all to improve his performance.

"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes," said Travis Tygart, the chief executive of USADA. "It's a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There's no success in cheating to win."

The 40-year-old Armstrong walked away from cycling for a second time in 2011 without being charged following a two-year federal criminal investigation into many of the same accusations he faces from USADA.

The federal probe was closed in February, but USADA announced in June it had evidence Armstrong used banned substances and methods - and encouraged their use by team-mates. The agency also said it had blood tests from 2009 and 2010 that were "fully consistent" with blood doping.

"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 on Thursday, calling the USADA investigation an "unconstitutional witch hunt."