Lance Armstrong. Photo: Oddne Rasmussen/Flickr
On Thursday night, Lance Armstrong chose not to enter into an arbitration process that would pit him against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, saying he's grown tired of fighting charges of doping.
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now," said Armstrong in a statement. "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."
The New York Times has reported that, according to the World Anti-Doping Code, Armstrong will be stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles, his Olympic bronze medal, any titles and awards he earned from 1998 on, and that he will be banned from the sport for life.
That's technically true, but it's a bit more complicated than that, as has been explained by the Associated Press and The New York Times this morning. The International Cycling Union, which has engaged in a bit of a turf war with the World Anti-Doping Agency in the past, said on Friday morning it would like the USADA to hand over "a reasoned decision explaining the action taken." In other words, they want to see what evidence the USADA has before announcing that they will strip Armstrong of his titles and awards. Once the USADA formally files sanctions against Armstrong, it is up to the International Cycling Union and the individual events to enact the USADA's actions. They are bound to do this under WADA rules, but they can also file an appeal that could go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. The court could give the International Cycling Union jurisdiction to rule on the case, or enforce the decision made by the USADA.
Armstrong has been given a wide platform to sound off, and his full statement has been published on Outside. Below, we've listed the responses of other parties involved, from doping officials to reporters and columnists who have covered Armstrong for much of his career.
“It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the USADA, which led the latest charge to expose Armstrong as a cheat. “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.”
"He had a right to contest the charges," WADA President John Fahey told the Associated Press after Armstrong's announcement. "He chose not to. The simple fact is that his refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them."
"USADA's conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping or if it is acting according to less noble motives" such as politics or publicity, U.S. district judge Sam Sparks wrote. Sparks was the judge presiding over Armstrong's request to have the case from the USADA thrown out. He did not throw out the case.
“I take that in many ways that this was the lowest risk strategy that he could pursue, in the sense that, if he had gone to arbitration, as much that he might have thought that he had a chance, just as he always did on the road during a bike race, testimony would have come into the record that could have been very damaging to him had it become public, had it been released to various parties that wanted to sue him," said Bonnie Ford of ESPN. "This way, he gets to walk away from a process that he’s declared invalid and try to shape his own message and what’s left of his legacy, which in the past he’s proved to be pretty skilled at.”
"Livestrong, Armstrong’s foundation, has already been damaged by this, even as its lobbyists have been in Washington, attacking the USADA the way Armstrong has always attacked his accusers," said Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. "Livestrong will go on for now. Armstrong may go on forever, a different kind of celebrity now. And will likely have a longer career as a victim than he did on his bike, not trying to outrace the field this time. Just the worldwide lie."
Tell us in the comments section below. What do you think about Lance Armstrong's decision not to fight the USADA?