At the end of cycling’s darkest of many drug-tainted days, the American who beat cancer was punished after deciding to stop fighting the claims.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued a statement which laid out a litany of charges against the 40-year-old, banned him from cycling for life and erased him from every race in which he had competed since 1998.
Friday's events bring an ignominious end to one of the greatest sporting fairytales ever told. He was the Texan who was given a less than 40 per cent chance of living after testicular cancer spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain.
But three years later in 1999, after chemotherapy, he won his first Tour de France at the age of 28. His reputation was further enhanced by his charity work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which raised £250million through the sale of yellow Livestrong bracelets.
For a decade he was strident and litigious in protecting himself from innuendo that suggested his success — which won him a £80m fortune — was built on drug taking.
But in Friday’s final chain of events, knowing all the evidence USADA had and having lost a lawsuit on Monday challenging the body’s jurisdiction, he effectively turned the needle of suspicion upon himself: he said he would not contest the charges brought by USADA.
It was a course of action that was interpreted by all but Armstrong’s most ardent supporters as evidence of guilt.
It saved him from the drawn-out embarrassment of a public hearing. It also allowed him to maintain his innocence even as he publicly quit the fight.
USADA’s statement read: ‘The anti-doping rule violations for which Mr Armstrong is being sanctioned are:
1) Use and/or attempted use of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.
2) Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfusion equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.
3) Trafficking of EPO, tes-tosterone, and corticosteroids.
4) Administration and/or attempted administration to others of EPO, testosterone, and cortisone.
5) Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.’
Armstrong, echoing his typically defensive tone of the last few years, said in an 871-word statement: ‘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. Regardless of what (USADA chief executive) Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colours. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?’ He added: ‘There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough”. For me, that time is now.
‘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 (USADA chief executive) Travis Tygart’s 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.’
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This is what he has been accused of taking.