AUSTIN (CN) – Lance Armstrong has dropped his fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and is likely to be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from professional cycling.
Armstrong issued a statement on his website Thursday, saying he was “finished with this nonsense.”
Armstrong, 40, of Austin, had hoped a federal lawsuit he filed in July against the agency and USADA CEO Travis Tygart would stop the “charade,” according to the statement on his website. But a judge dismissed that lawsuit this week.
Armstrong, the only man to win the Tour de France seven times, and a cancer survivor who has raised nearly $500 million to fight the disease, threw in the towel Thursday night.
“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 in his 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.”
In dismissing Armstrong’s lawsuit against USADA un Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks concluded that the agency did not violate Armstrong’s due process rights.
In his 30-page order, Sparks said that even if he had jurisdiction over Armstrong’s remaining claims, they would be best resolved through international arbitration, by those with expertise in the field, rather than by the courts.
With the dismissal, Armstrong had three choices – appeal to the 5th Circuit, fight the charges in arbitration, or quit and face punishment.
“I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade,” Armstrong said in his statement. “Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA’s motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.
“If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”
Calling USADA a “bully,” Armstrong said the agency is pursuing 17-year-old charges despite of its own 8-year limit. He said the international and national governing bodies of cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale and USA Cycling, have told the USADA that it lacks jurisdiction in the matter and have ordered it to stop. He accused the agency of making deals with other riders to say he cheated, many of whom continue to compete today.
“Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims,” Armstrong said. “The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?”
“From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. … 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.”
Armstrong retired from professional cycling in 2011. he said he will devote his time “to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.”
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