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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) — The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency handed Lance Armstrong a lifetime ban on Friday and stripped him of his seven titles in the Tour de France.
The move follows Armstrong’s announcement on Thursday night that he would not pursue arbitration in a bid to clear himself of the doping charges brought against him by USADA in June.
“USADA announced today that Lance Armstrong has chosen not to move forward with the independent arbitration process and as a result has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 through the present,” USADA said in a statement.
USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart added: “Nobody wins when an athlete decides to cheat with dangerous performance-enhancing drugs, but clean athletes at every level expect those of us here on their behalf, to pursue the truth to ensure the win-at-all-cost culture does not permanently overtake fair, honest competition.
“Any time we have overwhelming proof of doping, our mandate is to initiate the case through the process and see it to conclusion, as was done in this case.”
A lifetime ban, as described in the World Anti-Doping Code, bars Armstrong “from participating in any activity or competition organized by any signatory to the Code or any member of any signatory,” the USADA statement continued.
Whether the UCI will recognize USADA’s ban remains to be seen. The international governing body fought a pitched battle with the U.S. agency over jurisdiction in the Armstrong case and could refuse to honor its decision or appeal it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In a statement Friday, the UCI said it took note of Armstrong’s decision not to proceed to arbitration and that it awaited “a reasoned decision” outlining USADA’s rationale for its actions.
“The UCI recognizes that USADA is reported as saying that it will strip Mr. Armstrong of all results from 1998 onwards in addition to imposing a lifetime ban from participating in any sport which recognizes the World Anti-Doping Code,” the UCI said in statement.
“Article 8.3 of the WADC states that where no hearing occurs the anti-doping organization with results-management responsibility shall submit to the parties concerned (Mr. Armstrong, WADA and UCI) a reasoned decision explaining the action taken.
“Until such time as USADA delivers this decision the UCI has no further comment to make.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), meanwhile, has backed USADA in the jurisdictional dispute, and WADA chief John Fahey has said that Armstrong’s decision not to contest the agency’s allegations could be viewed as an admission of guilt.
“There can be no other interpretation,” Fahey said. “His failure to rebut the charges allowed the USADA to take that as an admission of guilt and to impose sanctions. I believe USADA acted properly. They laid very serious charges; he has chosen not to rebut those charges. The only way we would have known what the substance was of those charges, what the evidence was, was to have the evidence tested and I’m disappointed that won’t occur.”
Finally, Amaury Sports Organization, the owners of the Tour, issued a statement saying the organization “has taken note of the last elements of the procedure against Lance Armstrong … and will continue to closely monitor any new developments in this case.”
ASO added that it would await rulings from “the competent authorities with responsibility for this matter, first and foremost … USADA and the Union Cycliste Internationale, before making any further comments about it.”