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Armstrong to lose his 7 Tour wins

Champion to be stripped of cycling titles after giving up fight against US doping charges

SEVEN-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is set to be stripped of his titles after giving up his fight against drug charges brought by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Armstrong - who survived cancer to come back and win his titles - said "enough is enough" but insisted he was innocent of the charges of using illegal drugs and blood transfusions.

The USADA said it had evidence he had cheated - including statements from teammates - and he will be stripped of all his results from August 1, 1998 and face "a lifetime ban from participating in any sport sanctioned by a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency Code".

Armstrong said in a statement that for three years he had faced a federal criminal investigation. "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."

He added: "Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances."

Armstrong said he was the most drug-tested man in the history of sport: "The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of tests 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?"

In his statement he added: "I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999.

"I know who won those seven Tours, my team-mates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.

"We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront.

"There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that."

Armstrong said that the USADA had no right to strip him of his titles, that could only be done by the International Cycling Union UCI.

However, WADA president John Fahey said: “He had a right to contest the charges. He chose not to. His refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them. Under the rules, penalties can now be imposed.”

The UCI said that it would make a statement later today.
Photo: Haggisnl

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