Lance Armstrong will no longer be the most-decorated cyclist in history.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced early Friday that it will strip the athlete, 40, of his historic seven Tour de France titles, and will impose a lifetime ban from the sport. The decision came shortly after Armstrong himself revealed Thursday that he is giving up his battle against the USADA, which has charged him with illegal doping.
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now," Armstrong wrote in a statement on his website. "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 [an] 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. "
The sports icon retired twice from cycling, first in 2005, and then again in 2011. Although he has never been convicted of any doping charges, the USADA alleges that he took steroids during his legendary career, and claims that former teammates have testified confidentially to that effect.
Says USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart: "This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition, but for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs."
Had Armstrong been guilty in the investigation, he would have faced a lifetime ban from all sports.
"Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances," Armstrong said. "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."
Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer in 1996 at age 25, and overcame the potentially fatal diagnosis via surgery and groundbreaking chemotherapy treatments. He is a father of five kids: three with his ex-wife Kristin, and two with girlfriend Anna Hansen.