UPDATE: The USADA announced Friday morning that it has stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France championships. In addition to the removal of his titles, Armstrong has been issued a lifetime ban on cycling.
These developments come on the heels of an announcement from Armstrong late Thursday that he would not continue a fight against the USADA's doping allegations that became formal in late June.
Late Thursday night, news broke that Lance Armstrong will not continue his fight against doping allegations from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Armstrong had until midnight Thursday "to tell USADA whether he planned to fight doping charges through arbitration," and has decided not to pursue a fight against the charges.
In a statement released to the American-Statesman, Armstrong said:
USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles.
I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates 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. Especially not (USADA chief executive) Travis Tygart.”
As CultureMap originally reported in June, Armstrong's long battle against doping allegations received new fuel to the fire with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's letter to Armstrong on June 12 and official doping accusations on June 28.
In July, the saga continued when Armstrong filed a restraining order (that was quickly dismissed) against the quasi-governmental agency, citing the doping accusations and investigation were unconstitutional — a violation of Armstrong's Fifth Amendment rights. He called it the result of a personal "vendetta" against him and his Tour de France championships.
It is unclear what the final result of the latest development in the USADA/Armstrong case will be, but signs point to the retired cyclist being stripped of his seven Tour de France medals and an Olympic bronze medal.
Armstrong's official public statement, released on August 23, can be read in full on his website.