COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) — Lance Armstrong announced Thursday that he would drop his fight against charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his career, and that he and others were part of a doping conspiracy spanning years.
The Associated Press broke the story Thursday evening.
In a statement sent to the AP, Armstrong said: “Today I turn the page. 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.”
His statement reiterated many of the arguments rejected on Monday when U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dismissed Armstrong’s lawsuit against USADA, allowing the agency’s doping case against the seven-time winner of the Tour de France to continue.
In his ruling, Sparks wrote that despite what he termed USADA’s “woefully inadequate charging letter,” Armstrong’s challenges regarding due process were “without merit” and dismissed without prejudice “for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
The ruling stated further that Armstrong’s remaining claims were “best resolved through the well-established system of international arbitration, by those with expertise in the field, rather than by the unilateral edict of a single nation’s courts. …”
The 40-year-old Armstrong, who retired in 2011, had the options of appealing in federal court, proceeding with arbitration or accepting USADA’s sanctions for what the agency has called “a doping conspiracy” involving the former pro cyclist and associates at his former U.S. Postal Service team.
It was not clear Thursday whether Armstrong planned to appeal Sparks’ ruling. At the time, attorney Tim Herman issued a statement saying: “We are reviewing the court’s lengthy opinion and considering Mr. Armstrong’s options at this point.”
By refusing arbitration, Armstrong could receive a lifetime ban and lose all of his Tour titles. He has repeatedly denied doping and went to court over what his attorneys called USADA’s lack of jurisdiction and a violation of his constitutional rights.
His longtime sporting director Johan Bruyneel, meanwhile, has asked for an arbitration hearing, which can be open to the public.
Bruyneel, Armstrong’s personal friend, was also his directeur sportif for most of his professional career, and likewise faces the possibility of a lifetime ban from the sport. Now manager at RadioShack-Nissan, Bruyneel declined participation in the Tour de France this year, hoping to stay out of the spotlight, but recently returned to the team car at the Vuelta a España.
“This whole situation with allegations with USADA came just before the Tour,” he told VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood. “I decided it wouldn’t be good for the focus of the team for me to be present.
“The Tour is chaos, a lot of people, a lot of media, so I didn’t want to deal with that, I didn’t want the team to deal with that, so I thought it was a wise decision.”
In Colorado Springs, meanwhile, USADA CEO Travis Tygart also released a statement.
“It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” he wrote. “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.”
Later Thursday, USADA also announced that it would strip Armstrong of his Tour victories and other titles, and ban him for life.