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Lance Armstrong stripped of Tour victories, banned from cycling

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Lance Armstrong competes in the Ironman Panama 70.3. triathlon in Panama City, Sunday Feb. 12, 2012. The race consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

© PA Images / Arnulfo Franco/AP

Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his record-breaking seven Tour de France victories after abandoning his appeal against doping allegations, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The cyclist, who had maintained his innocence throughout the investigations, announced on Friday (August 24) that he was giving up the fight against accusations which have followed him throughout his hugely successful career.

US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) subsequently invalidated his Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005, discounted his performances in all professional races since August 1998 and gave Armstrong a lifetime ban from competitive cycling. The body said that their actions were in line with worldwide guidelines on anti-doping, although the governing body of cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale, stated that it wanted to see the evidence against Armstrong before approving any sanctions.

Armstrong has continued to protest his innocence, and explained that he had dropped his appeal because he believed the USADA charges were unfair. The 40-year-old cyclist then went on to describe the board's approach, which followed a two-year federal investigation, as a "witch-hunt".

John Fahey, the world's leading anti-drugs official, said that Armstrong's refusal to contest the charges "can only leave the interpretation that he is a cheat".

A statement issued by USADA last night also revealed that several witnesses had gone on record to say they had seen Armstrong using performance enhancing drug EPO, as well as "blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone" between 1998 and 2005, or to having heard him admit doing so.

In addition, the organisation has claimed that it has new evidence of positive tests from 38 samples previously registered as negative between 2009 and 2011 (a period covering Armstrong's comeback following cancer treatment).

"I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair," said Armstrong. "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough'. For me, that time is now.

"If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA's process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and - once and for all - put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance.

"Regardless of what Travis Tygart [chief executive of USADA] says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. From the beginning, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs."

Tygart has said that the USADA will make the evidence against Armstrong public "when the time [is] right". However, this is likely to be postponed until the additional cases of four other people charged alongside Armstrong - including his former directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel - had been concluded.

Nike, Armstrong's biggest sponsor and partner in his cancer charity Livestrong, said that it would continue to support him despite the developments.

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