Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life by the USADA on Thursday night, but not because of new incriminating evidence, or a scandalous confession. He was banned because he's retired and wants to stop fighting their charges.
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Armstrong gave a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday night explaining how he was going to stop fighting charges from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he used performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong was on a deadline Thursday evening. It was the last night he could decide between further arbitration, or accepting sanctions from the USADA. His whole statement was posted to his website. Armstrong didn't admit to doping, but he said he was tired of going through the process. Armstrong described the investigation as an "unconstitutional witch hunt." He already beat a Department of Justice investigation earlier this year. But after his lawsuit against the USADA got thrown out, he had enough:
I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade. 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.
The AP speculated when the story first broke that the USADA "will almost certainly treat Armstrong's decision as an admission of guilt, and hang the label of drug cheat on," Armstrong. It didn't take long the USADA to prove them right. About an hour after the story broke, the AP reported the USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles and banned him from cycling for life. There's no new evidence against Armstrong. He's just retired, and doesn't want to jump through their hoops anymore. A ban for life stops a cancer-surviving 40-year-old man from returning to a hyper-athletic sport. The USADA essentially played into his hand. How this affects his legacy depends on whether you believe he doped before. If you do believe he was dirty, then congratulations, I guess. If you believe he was always clean, then you'll probably continue acknowledging him as a seven-time Tour de France champion, the USADA be damned.