After facing continual and persistent charges by the federal government, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and even his own teammates that he used illegal, performance-enhancing drugs, world cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong has decided to basically throw in the towel by refusing to participate in legal arbitration. As a result, USADA says it will strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France cycling titles, and also ban him from ever again participating in the sport.
The Associated Press and others report that Armstrong made an announcement on the evening of Thursday, August 23, that he would no longer pursue trying to defend himself against the doping allegations, which USADA shortly thereafter attributed to an admission of guilt, based on all the available the evidence. Armstrong, of course, still maintains that he is innocent.
Shortly after the federal government oddly and abruptly ceased its own two-year investigation into Armstrong's alleged doping activities back in February, USADA decided to take up the matter and initiate its own investigation, citing comprehensive evidence proving Armstrong's guilt. Armstrong attempted to sue the group for this, but U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks threw out Armstrong's case and ruled that USADA's pursuit of Armstrong was indeed valid, regardless or whether or not it was based on ill-conceived intentions.
Armstrong's final recourse in the matter was to submit to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, where he would have been able to defend himself against the allegations. But Armstrong refused.
But these excuses hardly settle the matter as simply as Armstrong would like them to, particularly because the USADA does not bring up charges against an athlete unless it is sure that the evidence it possesses is valid. Though opportunistic and self-serving, Armstrong's former teammate Tyler Hamilton even wrote a book about his and Armstrong's doping activities, which was recently published.
Meanwhile, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey made a public announcement following Armstrong's recent speeches about calling it quits that Armstrong "had a right to contest the charges," but refused. He added that Armstrong's "refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them," mimicking the sentiment of USADA which all along appears to have believed that Armstrong was guilty of the charges levied against him.
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(Photo: REUTERS / ROBERT PRATTA)
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