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Armstrong faces loss of Tour de France titles for doping

The US Anti-Doping Agency has said that Lance Armstrong should be stripped of his Tour de France titles for doping. Armstrong said he will not pursue the case, but challenged the agency's authority to take his titles.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Friday moved to strip retired American cyclist Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from the sport for life on doping charges.

Armstrong, 40, won the world's most prestigious cycling event from 1999-2005 after overcoming cancer. USADA chief Travis Tygart said Armstrong would be stripped of his titles dating back to August 1, 1998.

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Lance Armstrong gives up his legal battle

USADA formally charged Armstrong in June with doping and taking part in a conspiracy with his world champion teams to cover up the violations. Five other cyclists have been accused of helping Armstrong hide doping activity over the past 14 years. The anti-doping agency said in a letter that Armstrong's samples from 2009 and 2010 are "fully consistent" with doping.

"It's a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes," Tygart said in a release.

"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…," he added.

Armstrong challenges USADA authority

Armstrong said he would no longer fight USADA's proceedings, but vehemently denied the doping charges leveled against him.

"Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims," Armstrong said in a release. "The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors."

The retired cyclist accused USADA of "breaking the law," saying the agency brought 17-year-old charges against him despite an 8-year limitation. He also questioned the organization's method for testing doping.

Armstrong accused the agency of overstepping its authority. He said that only the International Cycling Union (UCI), the governing body of world cycling, could strip him of his titles. The UCI did not immediately comment on the case.

"USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles," Armstrong said.

"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," he added.

Armstrong said he would "turn the page" and focus on his work with families affected by cancer in underserved communities.

slk/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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