How Lance Armstrong Lost His Tour de France Titles

The cyclist's decision to forfeit his titles and not contest charges by the United States Anti-Doping Agency may be, in a sense, logical

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Bas Czerwinski / AP

Lance Armstrong leads the breakaway group as the bikers climb towards Tourmalet pass during the 16th stage of the Tour de France on July 20, 2010

In the Tour de France, a race he won seven times, Lance Armstrong was so driven that he would chase down cyclists who offended his sense of fair play. By the same token, he once slowed to let a rival win a Tour stage to honor his opponent’s competitiveness. So his decision to forfeit his titles and not contest charges by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that he used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and led a doping ring throughout his career is both surprising and, in a sense, logical.

Armstrong is a ferociously competitive beast, but faced with a process he saw as blatantly unfair and stacked against him, he refused to take part in an arbitration with USADA over the charges. For example, USADA, the agency that handles drug testing and enforcement for Olympic-level and other elite athletes who compete in global events like the Tour, refused to provide the names of the dozen witnesses slated to testify against him, as is required in U.S. courts. “From the beginning, we have challenged USADA’s motives, methods and authority to proceed with a so-called conspiracy charge against Mr. Armstrong,” his attorneys said in a statement.

(MORE: Why the Wheels Came Off the Lance Armstrong Case)

USADA has long insisted, over the course of increasingly vituperative exchanges between the two parties, that Armstrong is refusing to take part in an arbitration procedure that he had a part in creating and that he, as an international cyclist, had agreed to follow.  “As is every athlete’s right,” USADA said in a statement, “if Mr. Armstrong would have contested the USADA charges, all of the evidence would have been presented in an open legal proceeding for him to challenge. He chose not to do this, knowing these sanctions would immediately be put into place.” Armstrong says jurisdiction of his case belongs to the Union Cycliste Internationale, not to USADA.

With Armstrong’s decision not to arbitrate, his victories have vanished, although not necessarily his legacy as the founder of LiveStrong, the cancer advocacy group that is nearly 15 years old. Certainly, his legend as a cyclist, once tainted, is forever scarred. It was a great one too.  Surviving a cancer that had spread from his testicle to his lungs and brain, Armstrong returned to cycling and dominated the Tour for six years, first as the leader of the U.S. Postal team and later for teams at Discovery Channel, Astana and Radio Shack. He raised cycling’s profile in the States and magnified the Tour’s significance. But according to USADA, Armstrong was also the leader of a doping conspiracy that since 1999 obtained and shared PEDs such as erythropoietin (EPO) and human growth hormone (HGH).

(PHOTOS: Lance Armstrong: His Career in Sport and Beyond)

Armstrong resolutely defended himself, reminding his critics that he never failed a drug test during his career — 560 in total, according to the Wall Street Journal. That allegation-refutation refrain was constant, a part of every story ever written about him. So Armstrong decided he was finished defending himself. “Today I turn the page,” he said in a statement. “I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities.” (Disclosure: I have donated to LiveStrong.)

More than that, he bitterly resents being singled out by USADA and its leader, Travis Tygart, for what he labeled “an unconstitutional witch hunt” — a pursuit that has cost Armstrong millions in legal fees.  He was also targeted by federal investigators who spent three years and millions of taxpayer dollars pursuing charges that Armstrong somehow defrauded the government by winning the Tour de France as the leader of the Posties while using PEDs.

(VIDEO: 10 Questions for Lance Armstrong)

The feds dropped the case without charges being filed. The decision came in the context of baseball star Barry Bonds’ steroid case — largely an embarrassing government defeat — and juries’ general lack of concern, from a legal standpoint, about athletes’ alleged use of PEDs.  The potential witnesses in the USPS case included Floyd Landis, another Tour winner busted for doping and former Armstrong teammate who claimed that both of them had used PEDs. Landis, though, had some credibility issues that might have been robustly challenged in a federal court. So while that case was dropped, the U.S. Attorney shared with Tygart and USADA some of the information it had obtained. Tygart’s witnesses purportedly included trusted Armstrong lieutenants like veteran cyclist George Hincapie, but USADA refused to release names, on the basis that Armstrong could intimidate them if it did so. Armstrong’s defense team hinted that USADA’s witnesses had been offered leniency for their own violations if they testified against him.

(PHOTOS: Cancer Survivors’ Inspirational Stories)

Armstrong’s attorneys tried desperately to head off the USADA case by filing suit in federal court in Texas, alleging that USADA’s adjudication system didn’t afford due process. But U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks threw the case out twice. The first time, he scolded the Armstrong team for trying to use U.S. courts to vent its criticism of the USADA investigation. But he threw out the revised suit with some reluctance and was critical of USADA’s behavior. Some of USADA’s procedures, such as its charging letter, wouldn’t pass muster in federal court, he said, but the federal court had no business in the court of sport. In one note, cited by Armstrong’s attorneys, Sparks said, “Among the Court’s concerns is the fact that USADA has targeted Armstrong for prosecution many years after his alleged doping violations occurred.” He pointed out that USADA also charged people along with Armstrong, such as team doctors and managers, over whom it had no jurisdiction.

When the federal court threw out his suit, Armstrong figured he had no chance in USADA’s court. The agency that had been after him for more than 10 years now stood, in his view, as judge, jury and executioner. So Armstrong, for perhaps the first and only time in his career, decided not to compete. In his view, he’s already ahead 560 to 0. Instead, he will take his case to the court of public opinion.  And there we can all judge him.

65 comments
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Zion Uap
Zion Uap

If you want to be successful, it's better to break the rules now and pay the price later than to avoid risks. Find out what Raz Silberman has to say about the upside of cheating.Don't Ask/Do Beg -- Why Breaking the Rules Pays Off. http://rsilberman.com/?p=570 

Dave
Dave

There is a myth here that Armstrong never failed any drug tests. It's simply not true.

What happened at the 2001 Tour de Suisse? What happened to the 1999 urine samples that were subsequently tested in 2004? What about the fact that he beat countless riders that we know doped?

No-one wants to believe he did anything wrong. But to ignore the mountains of evidence against him would be wrong.

Detailed article here: http://velocitynation.com/cont...

Billgernomic
Billgernomic

Marion Jones NEVER failed a drugs test.  Fact. So let's not get bogged down saying he never failed a test (which he did but then was granted a retrospective TUE for steroid cream by the UCI, which LA later donated $125,000 to for testing equipment which was never purchased).

Also the claims that LA was tested 500+ times is wildly inaccurate and even pro LA supporters admit the true number would be between 200-300.

He is guilty. Yes he has done a great deal for cancer treatment and patients but as a sportsman he is a fraud. A delusional one at that. 

Strongwoman66
Strongwoman66

Have any of you ever thought that all of the past tests Armstrong passed were not on track with the new technologies of doping? Back in 1990's, the committee didn't really have the right equipment to deal with the cases. Some sportspeople managed to take tests successfully and could stay as 'innocent' for years. Marion Jones's one of those people. She PASSED all the tests and still admitted to steroid use.

Mpeterma
Mpeterma

This needs to stop, Lance's titles are not the property or in the jurisdiction of the USADA, period. They have no such power to remove him of his wins or anything like that. 

Chaveza
Chaveza

What surprised me is that the doping was found a long time afterwards, which makes me thing that it was in fact just bad chemistry on the USDA's Part. Chemicals deteriorate over time. I remember reading a story about how a bunch of murder's were attributed to a poison, and soon enough the government started blaming an incredible number of deaths on this poison, soon enough, they figured out that this chemical was produced after death naturally, and in fact there was no poison at all to begin with. Something to think about

calhounite1
calhounite1

First, this article is grossly misleading. Let's be clear. Armstrong isn't throwing in the towel because of process. He's doing so because he's a walking, talking roid suppository. This way can still claim innocence rather than have the whole freakin team of which he was a part gore through every nasty detail, spilling the whole truckload of beans publicly. More advanced retests showing failed results, etc.

And the national governing body does have jurisdiction over official international awards..medals and wins will be voided. 

Drugs are very effective in this sport, and advanced methods, drugs continue to outpace testing methods. However, still important to recognize clean atheletes as best as can be done.

Rbarrington
Rbarrington

wait a minute. and what about him passing EVERY FREAKIN ONE OF THE 500 TESTS?? based on allegations and innuendo of folks who a) had a vendetta b) something to gain in way of USADA beanies, Lance is attacked for years on end, causing him to spend millions on his defence .. the only smoking gun is the Tygart a*hole on a witch hunt for reasons which will one day hopefully become clear.

Dave
Dave

For the hundredth time, Marion Jones never failed a SINGLE test. Not one! 

Zeke
Zeke

What a ridiculous caption -- "How Lance Armstrong lost his Tour de France Titles".

First off, the USAGA does not have the authority to remove his titles. It is up to the UCI, and they are are asking for real evidence before they make any assertions. I know, it sounds strange... Actually having solid evidence before acusing some one of cheating.

Perhaps after we see the doped blood results from the USAGA (which was never found in over 500 tests), then we can make accusations. But before then, it's just a witch hunt as far as I'm concerned.

Zeke
Zeke

Sorry, I meant USADA, not USAGA.

gotohealth
gotohealth

Right or wrong, who were the riders who turned on Lance and did they receive immunity? The list of informants will eventually come out and it will be interesting how they are received by cycling industry and fans.

Mike
Mike

France.  Guilty Until proven Innocent. That's what I always heard about France. In America that is know as terrorism. Anyone who believes Lance is guilty without proof is a terrorist.

JohnC
JohnC

agreeing to arbitration would have  released all the dirty laundry and Armstrong obviously did not want this. being tested 560 times means absolutely nothing. with all the money involved the drugs can and are so often very much ahead of the testing . I am now convinced he cheated.

Achilles
Achilles

 JohnC....you've got to be kidding!  560 times means nothing?  I bet you still believe the world is flat and the earth is the center of the universe!

John
John

 Marion Jones never tested positive.... those supreme athletes are so far ahead of the game you would not even imagine. it is not that everyone is doing it [ most do] or who can remove his titles. the fact is that this is a sport event that requires you to have the integrity in saying that you are clean and deserve to wear the yellow jersey for the world to acclaim you as a sporting hero. When you cheat and claim this , it is wrong.

Silky Johnson
Silky Johnson

He did supposedly take 1 test he knew he was going to fail according to testimony but somebody made that one  disappear.  And there are the samples from 1999 that supposedly showed EPO but the labs own independent attorney said there were too many gaps in the chain of custody over the years for them to be considered legitimate.  That being said...  Lance was probably on EPO.  Maybe on low-dose testosterone too.  But, at the level of the tour Lance was competing at 95+% of the competitors are on the same thing.  Lance was on a level playing field and he beat all the other top competitors who are PROVEN juicers time and again.  He is the greatest of all time with or without his titles.

Chinga_Tu_Madre
Chinga_Tu_Madre

When you're a high achiever in any field, there's bound to be critics, complainers and malcontents. Full of envy and disgust at how their own lives turned out, they despise genuine excellence (not the same as spoiled children who inherit their parents wealth).

So shut up. Just shut up.

Zincede
Zincede

That chop that is in charge, thinks that he will be come famous. But the truth is after a week no one will remember. But the high lights of those seven tour will still show Lance. Go LIVESTRONG

Richard Boulanger
Richard Boulanger

The USADA is kidding themselves (and spending tax dollars to do so) if they think they can just arbitrarily take away medals won in a competition outside of the US.  They need to find a real purpose in life, say finding effective drug tests, since clearly the urine and blood tests Mr. Armstrong took did not work, for years, if the USADA is to be believed. I believe that there is no realistic way for Mr. Armstrong to have 'beat the system' as many times as he did. If he did, as they say, then the system is broken to such a degree there may as well not BE a system.

The congress has long been involved in the regulation of sports in the United States.  I see no reason why the courts cannot also be involved in such regulations.

Stan Halbert
Stan Halbert

 Good, fair article.    I think that USADA is over-reaching, and ignoring due process.  I don't know how such a patently unfair process is run under the aegis of the U.S.

Biteme
Biteme

He never failed any drug tests.  Why hound this guy?  Leave him alone.  He is helping a lot through his foundation.   They don't have any proof except hearsay...."this guy said this, this guy said that" but the test always show negative.  Maybe he is just a victim of envy and the whole process is a witchhunt.

Jamaldo98@hotmail.com
Jamaldo98@hotmail.com

In my opinion, the USADA should be closed and officials be retired with the minimum for trying to win a race without pedalling. 

owl905
owl905

The USADA has investigate 50 cases like Armstrong - their track record is 48 to 2.    Any expectation of judicial process and balanced evidence disappears when 50 athletes agree to an arbitration process ... and 2 survive the gauntlet.

So Armstrong poisoned the well.   It will never be over.

All the opinions hardened to concrete years ago ... there's nothing new but motivated new amp; improved claims.

Armstrong's samples didn't just pass inspection at the time - the samples passed inspection after newer techniques and technologies were developed.  He passed them when seemingly everyone else doing the same thing heard the snap of newer traps.

He's not only the best cyclist of all time; he's the best cheater of all time.  Occam's razor wouldn't go there.

bandit94
bandit94

He never tested positive.

ALW
ALW

Lance got a lot more attention from the Feebs than Lloyd Blankfein.

Brandon Wright
Brandon Wright

USADA: 560 successful drug tests?

Lance: That's right

USADA: So basically, there has NEVER been any evidence whatsoever to suggest that you have taken PED's?

Lance: That is also right.

USADA: Ok then, looks like we have a case, but more importantly we have a couple million dollars of tax payer money we can use to cost you millions of dollars in legal fees that could have gone to your cancer group. Oh by the way we're taking away your entire career... K thanks bye...

WTF...

Proof that no matter who you are, if the system wants to screw you, it will...

rory2012
rory2012

Moral standard in modern America,Suspected drug cheat in US is a hero and an legend but suspected drug cheat other than American is a criminal.

Webwalker
Webwalker

 Perhaps it's because in the US we live by "innocent until proven guilty." Unfortunately this tax payer funded organization has decided to follow media and ignore that basic precept of American society.

rory2012
rory2012

 I guess your logic only apply to American

Sherri
Sherri

Doping or not, he did it 7 TIMES, he was the strongest, the baddest, and the BEST for 7 TIMES.  I don't care who you are, this man is a living cycling legend,  Period!!!!   Ride on Lance

 

John
John

 so if you cheat and you win 7 times its ok. good values you have.

rory2012
rory2012

Conspiracy?US Olympic Committee suspect Armstrong is a Chinese national and been sent to trained in US since born and haven't seen his family for decade under harsh training.Source from Capital Hill also suggests he was drugged by Chinese with drug made in China.Both presidential candidates may confirmed the fact in their campaign across America.

Fartface
Fartface

Are you completely fucking retarded or just partially?

rory2012
rory2012

Have you look at the mirror lately,it's all show in you name..big Cut

Paul E Tooley Sr
Paul E Tooley Sr

OH WHAT FOOLS WE MORTALS BE. WELL, MAYBE NOT ALL OF US, BUT THE LANCE ARMSTRONG CASE IS INDICATIVE OF HAVING SOME, WHO ARE TEAMING UP AGAINST HIM. SOME OF HIS 'ENEMIES" ARE DOPESTERS INDICATED BY THEIR

 JEALOUSY! GO, LANCE, GO.

kms123
kms123

I think that there is some truth in the allegations of doping mad eagainst this man. If he was really innocent he would have persisted with his case in the courts. In addition to losing the medals he won, he might also have to return money to sponsors etc.

Wordenworks
Wordenworks

So an innocent person has to spend all their money defending their innocence?  whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?  Given the circumstances of the witch hunt, I would not spend another cent answering USADA charges.  He never failed a drug test and should not have to pay to defend himself against this bullying.

D Vandoria
D Vandoria

USADA seems determined to treat athletes as war criminals. Travis Tygart is to sports doping as Simon Wiesenthal is to Nazi war crimes prosecution. Hunt and harass them to the ends of the earth and time. Great use of tax payer money in the suspension of Constitutionally rights to fair and timely trial. 

akpat
akpat

Well I'm sure that after paying the attorneys he has decided enough money is enough. Lets face it if big brother comes after you just how much money can you afford to pay. Their check is limitless so even if you are right they will win in the end.

So Lance you are still the great cyclist.

Carlg2020
Carlg2020

Ah at long last Lance has smartly put down his end of the rope. 

Bravo for what you have done and shame on the suits wrapped in puritanical fantasy and hypocrisy for on the day of their tests - they have nothing - it should stop there - 

Thomas S. Tucker
Thomas S. Tucker

Over 500 tests and nothing turns up, so a personal vendetta of the Obamam adiminitration's goons at USADA finally pushes him hard enough to just give up?  This is the most disgusting bit of government highhandedness ever.  Sink their ship people.  Fire them all in Nov. or you may be next.

Mpauhk
Mpauhk

Good Lord, Thomas. I was with you up until the point you somehow managed to tie the Obama administration into this conspiracy theory you have swirling around in your head. For what other historical events, sport or otherwise, should Obama take responsibility? The disappearance of the Roanoke colony in Virginia? The Civil War? Pearl Harbor? Oh wait, your kind doesn't believe he was born in Hawaii.

Give it up, man. Stop watching Fox "News" and at least make an effort to sound reasonably intelligent, instead of blaming all of the world's problems on the President.

Did Lance Armstrong use PED's to enhance his performance? I'd like to believe he didn't, but I wasn't there. And I'm pretty sure President Obama wasn't either.

Jfante1452
Jfante1452

I want to pile on here. Good Thomas! You earn an A+ for being a troll and a simpleton.

which-doctor
which-doctor

I'm a Nigerian Thomas, and my people in the "third world" generally assume that because you are white and American means you possess superior intellect and a sound thought process. They take this as facts. Unfortunately they do not know people like you and Paul(who replied you) and rep Todd Akin exist. I would say it stretches the limits of human stupidity to somehow tie your hatred of Obama in with the persecution of Lance by a doping agengy that even I in Nigeria is aware is independent of the US govt and has been after him for 10years, 6 more than Obama has been "high chief" of America. I recommend you come start pre-school in Nigeria. It will help you develop a better thought process.

tschorr
tschorr

The USADA is not a government agency and it's members are not political appointees. There is no connection whatsoever between Obama and the USADA. The people in the USADA started their investigation of Armstrong 6 years prior to Obama becoming President. I agree that the fact that Armstrong never failed a drug test in all those years certainly casts some doubt on the USADA's case, but to blame the U.S. government and Obama for the actions of an independent, non-government agency just because its name starts with United States is a little silly.

Paul E Tooley Sr
Paul E Tooley Sr

I agree, Thomas. How could those taking the test 500 times, and it was by various entitys, and passed by all! C'mon, give me a break! Something doesn't add up?

Trickydicky
Trickydicky

He didn't pass all the tests.

He tested positive during his first TDF win in '99.

He also had 6 other positives for EPO.

But carry on repeating the myth that he never failed a test...

Realist
Realist

Haha!  Thomas, your strange need to stretch this story into the realm of politics is too comical not to comment.  I can just picture Obama laughing diabolically from the Oval Office after sicking his "goons" on Lance Armstrong. Next you'll tell us that he did it all because Lance is from Texas, and he is getting back at George Bush!

Great Friday laugh Thomas!! Let us know where you post next so we can continue the fun!

Johnny Smith
Johnny Smith

Thomas, you did read that USADA had been going after Armstrong for 10 years? And Obama has been president for 4 years. Hold on, let me do the math here ...


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