AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — With stunning swiftness, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday night it will strip Lance Armstrong of his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles after he dropped his fight against drug charges that threatened his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
The allegations don’t surprise me. They are the same ones that have basically dogged Armstrong for at least a decade. The suddenness of the decision surprises me a bit, but what really, really does surprise me is Armstrong dropping his countersuit and basically “giving up” in the fight to protect his legacy.
His dauntless will and ruthless competitive spirit is the bedrock of his legendary status. He’s 40 years old. Not 80. Yeah it’s got to be a pain to deal with, but how hard can it be to fight this? If it’s like most legal challenges, Lance himself is not in court every day, his attorneys are. There is no indication the legal fight is draining his considerable financial resources, and there is little doubt that being stripped of his medals and tainted with the “official” brand of “cheater” will cost him more in the next decades than the legal bills would be.
Yet he throws in the towel.
I am sure that will disappoint his fans as much as any of the allegations ever did.
I have been honest here on this site that I have been concerned for years not so much by the “authorities” but by the open and public accusations made by his teammates about a history of calculated and deliberate doping being done by the entire team, a team which has had multiple members banned and stripped of titles due to proven doping. I have always struggled to remain totally convinced of Lance’s innocence when surrounded by so much cheating among his closest teammates. This sudden surrender, I’m afraid, does not help me maintain my optimism of Armstrong’s innocence.
A sad day for the sport.