Seven-time Tour de france winner Lance Armstrong has relented his fight against the US anti-doping agency (USADA), citing his weariness from the investigation, which he labelled a ‘pitiful charade’. The USADA’s investigation is centered around allegations of Armstrong’s suspected use of the blood-booster EPO, steroid and blood transfusions predating the cycling legend’s seven Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005.Armstrong will continue to claim his innocence but stated ‘I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair’. The refusal to contest the allegations means that Armstrong will not face charges directly in court but will be stripped of his Tour de France titles in addition to serving a life-time ban from competing and coaching in cycling.
Armstrong famously overcame testicular cancer to become the most successful Tour de France competitor in history but since the Texan’s initial retirement in 2005 he has been the subject of blood doping allegations that had also plagued his time as Tour de France champion. The USADA, who regard Armstrong as a ‘ring-leader’ in a systematic circle of blood-doping within his tour teams, has declared that ten of Armstrong’s former team-mates are prepared to testify against him.
A more relaxed approach to clamping down on doping cheats blighted the era in which Armstrong’s career was at its most successful and the USADA’s relentless investigation typifies a desire to clear the sullied name of cycling in this period. Armstrong’s apathy in the face of the USADA’s allegations is uncharacteristic and suggests a resignation to the charges having credible substance. USADA chief executive declared ‘It is a sad day for all of us who love sports and our athletic heroes’, Armstrong will meanwhile continue to champion his Livestrong cancer charity after citing the ongoing investigation had taken its toll on his efforts with the organisation.