Lance Armstrong ends fight against doping charges: Q&A
AP Photo-Peter Dejong, File
Lance Armstrong has announced his decision not to contest the charges brought against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and described the process as a "witch hunt".
The USADA has responded by stating they intend to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from cycling for life. There could yet be further twists to come in the saga.
MSN Sport spoke to Rob Spedding, editor of Cycling Plus, who believes the charges against Armstrong are potentially the biggest scandal not just in cycling, but sport as a whole.
Why has Armstrong chosen to stop contesting the charges?
"It's complicated. Lance is standing by his stance that he didn't dope. He also claims that USADA has zero physical evidence to prove that he doped. Instead, he is saying that he won't contest the charges because he doesn't actually believe that USADA is the body that should be charging him and stripping him of his titles. That, says Armstrong, is the jurisdiction of cycling's governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
"Of course, there will be a lot of people who will see this simply as an admission of guilt - that the USADA has a strong case and that Armstrong realises this and has therefore thrown in the towel. Certainly this seems to be the view of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
"Doubters might also point to the fact that by not contesting USADA's charges, the evidence they do have will not be shared yet. In an ideal world everything would be out in the open - if for instance Armstrong could get his case heard before an independent panel and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)."
What is Armstrong accused of taking and why couldn't it be detected at the time?
"The USADA's charges are retrospective as Armstrong's Tour wins came between 1999 and 2005. USADA is accusing him of taking EPO, coriticosteriods, testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH) and blood transfusions, and masking the use of these performance enhancing drugs and methods with saline and plasma infusions.
Many feel the UCI would prefer this to go away and Lance's legacy be left simply as the greatest Tour de France winner ever.
"During the late 1990s and early 2000s, there wasn't an effective test for EPO, blood transfusions are also notoriously difficult to detect."
Why does Armstrong describe the USADA process as one-sided and unfair?
"Armstrong's argument is that USADA doesn't have jurisdiction over him or professional cycling and that only the UCI has the right to pass judgment, to ban him and to strip him of his Tour de France wins. He also sees the USADA actions as a personal vendetta in much the same way that he claimed the USFDA investigation into him - which ended last year - was also personal.
"Armstrong also claims that while he has done everything by the book and the USADA has actually ridden roughshod over the rules - by doing things such as offering leniency to witnesses willing to say that they saw Armstrong take performance enhancing drugs."
Has Armstrong been treated differently to other cyclists in terms of the authorities' dogged pursuit of him?
"Arguably Armstrong is the biggest thing to have ever happened in road cycling and his story couldn't be scripted: survive cancer, come back and win biggest bike race in the world seven times, raise millions for charity, date a rock star.
AP Photo-Alessandro Trovati
"However, plenty of other champion cyclists have been pursued, caught and punished. Lance's biggest rival Jan Ullrich for instance, Ivan Basso - the man Armstrong anointed as his successor.
"And the USADA isn't 'cycling' as such. Many commentators feel that the UCI would much prefer this to all go away and Lance's legacy be left simply as the greatest Tour de France winner ever. There are plenty of people, though, journalists such as David Walsh and Paul Kimmage who have been dogged in their pursuit of him."
What is the feeling about Armstrong inside the sport? Would today's riders feel that he is finally getting his comeuppance?
"I think it'll be a while before any current cyclists say anything especially enlightening about Lance.
It will have a knock-on effect on riders like Wiggins - there will always be people who believe that you can't win bike races clean.
"Riders who've already made allegations against him such as former team-mates Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and Frankie Andreu may be feeling some sense of schadenfreude though."
What effect does this have on the sport as we know it today?
"It is, potentially, the biggest ever scandal in not just cycling but sport full stop. Even at this still confusing stage it'll be adding fuel to the fire of every critic of professional cycling who says "They're all on drugs'.
AP Photo-Laurent Rebours
"And yes, it will likely have a knock on affect when it comes to riders like Wiggins and Cavendish - there will always be people who believe that you can't win bike races clean. It's also likely to deflect from the fact that cycling isn't the only sport that has or has had a drug problem.
"I'm sure some fans will give up on cycling whatever the outcome - especially those in the US - but equally cycling has survived scandal in the past and come out the other side. Even though it's only been seven years since Armstrong's last Tour victory, there is very much the feeling that the Armstrong era is part of cycling's history rather than its present and that the sport has moved on - both in terms of personality and cleaning up its act. That said, today's announcement is by no means the end of the story."
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A 7 times winner of the Tour de France, drug tested on numerous occasions, all said he was clear of drugs. I can understand him saying he is stopping trying to defend himself. Enough is enough, what as happened to innocent till proven guilty. No test have show he has taken drugs, so how in the hell are they going to prove he has supposed to have taken drugs. I suppose Feltz should have all his Olympic medals taken of him, they could say he didn't win all those medals without the help of drugs, even though is tests were negative as well.
What credible witness are there to speak against him, guys like Hamilton and Landis are a joke, they only spoke about Armstrong after they were caught and riding for completely different teams.
This reeks of US politics, make allegations, claim you have evidence no matter how dubious the sources, remembering the FBI didnt find anything previously.
I can fully understand why Lance is walking away, as USADA have already made up their minds, now the head of WADA is making wild comments about Lance not fighting makes him guilty, all without hearing any real evidence. How credible does that make them?
Lance should do what is right for him, no matter what else happens, for all those with cancer I hope LiveStrong prevails. The fight against cancel in all its forms is much more important than this story.
Good Luck Lance in whatever you do.
who will want to win anything in future?
If you win you must be a cheat?.
We already have schools with non competitive sports days. Whats next? a non competitive Tour, because if you win you will be called a cheat.
People should only be banned if they test positive for tests they can effectively carry out at that time.
Lets rip up history, Im sure we can find some problem with everything in life if we make it a personal grudge.
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!!!!
No proof other than the word of convicted drug cheats trying to reduce their punishment. Surely a hero of the sport deserves to be treated better than this until proven guilty. Throughout his career he had hundreds of drugs tests, all negative!
USADA has no legal rights to strip him of his title wins or ban him from cycling, even though he is now retired anyway so why fight them, he knows they have no evidence so there is nothing to defend himself against.
I see people posting saying that because he won't defend himself he must be guilty. I don't agree. It's his way of giving them the finger and saying F**K YOU! I'm not going to play your stupid game anymore.
If they actually make public hard evidence what is the point in a hearing anyway? They either have it or they don't. Make it public if you have it.
I admire the man....,,,,,,,lets not forget that most people dealt his life path would have given up, sponged off state benefits and died an early death........after being the most tested sportsman ever and nothing ever proven, leave him alone and give him the benefit of the doubt.... and let Lance live the rest of his life the way he chooses....which I am sure will also be a continued positive and contributing one to society, as he has always done.
The French hated him for winning and finally some obscure wannebe with a name like Travis Bickle in 'Taxi Driver' only this one is a real life wannabe nails Lance.
After hundreds, maybe thousands of tests that found nothing they ban him.
It's actually just as ridiculous as it is unbelievable.
Give it five years and they'll be taking every gold a British track cyclist ever won, Wiggins tour win and certainly Cav's endeavours will be erased. And why? Because it doesn't fit the agenda.
If Lance can't do it clean then target the Brits. later down the road as our winning performances border ALREADY on the unbelievable.
I can find nothing credible in this. Armstrong's peers were found dirty in some cases - not all. Not all were on it and it beggars belief for Armstrong to have been on something else, to have rid it from his system, to never have been caught, never made a mistake, to have acted alone nor to have lied so consistently as would have been required.
Innocent. A hero. Perhaps the greatest cyclist ever and certainly one of the world's greatest ever athletes. He gave so much in and beyond the sport.
When the Carl Lewis giants fall they do so as part of a whole laboratory of cheats, potions and lies; they do not act alone. And yet Armstrong was so close to so many over a decade and yet nothing sticks to any one but Lance. I expect Bruyneel almost put Lance to bed every night for years and missed the syringes then.
In my eyes he ranks alongside Eddie as one of the most gifted, talented and decent of men who rode in an era where testing was evoliving to where we are, and have been for some time. And that is in an era where drug cheating is eliminated and anyone using it are caught. Lance rode in these times, in France where they not only checked his blood but also his hotel waste bin, his garbage, his food, the bus, his mail even his entourage and friends.
They found nothing because there was nothing to find.
Then there's Travis Bickle ........... we are talking hero to zero: Lance to Travis.
I am not convinced either way on his use of drugs. He certainly raced in an era when young Americans used steroids and growth hormones like others use aspirin. Flo Jo's premature death and the fact that her records STILL stand attest to this and may hint at the root causes of his own cancer at such a young age. If he spent all his time training on a bike how did he get so big and muscular only to be so slim the rest of his career?
That said, if he passed every test going at the time, how can the authorities strip him of his wins?
A guilty verdict can now only be delivered based on hearsay and the testimony of questionnable witnesses.
I think he is probably being smart. The public will ultimately side with him; his wins will remain in history if not in the history books and he will always be considered an icon and one of the greatest cyclists of all time.