Hero worship just got a lot harder. Lance Armstrong has given up his fight against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
The New York Times reported, “Armstrong ... said that he would not continue to contest the charges levied against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which claimed that he doped and was one of the ringleaders of systematic doping on his Tour-winning teams. He continued to deny ever doping, calling the antidoping agency’s case against him ‘an unconstitutional witch hunt’ and saying the process it followed to deal with his matter was ‘one-sided and unfair.’ ”
Armstrong said contesting the charges had taken too much of a toll on his family, but his decision to end his fight may take an enormous toll on everything he’s worked toward his entire life.
The Times noted, “Armstrong’s decision, according to the World Anti-Doping Code, means he will be stripped of his seven Tour [de France] titles, the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics and all other titles, awards and money he won from August 1998 forward. It also means he will be barred for life from competing, coaching or having any official role with any Olympic sport or other sport that follows the World Anti-Doping Code.”
That’s a lot to give up, considering Armstrong released a vehement denial in June, saying, “I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one . . . That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.”
But just last Monday, a federal judge dismissed Armstrong’s latest lawsuit aimed at halting the USADA case against him. CNN reported judge Sam Sparks said in his ruling, “that Armstrong's assertions that he unfairly didn’t have the right to due process ‘fail as a matter of law, and must be dismissed.’ The judge also refused to side with the cyclist on his other claims, including that the USADA should not have jurisdiction in his case.”
CNN also noted that Sparks had rejected a similar lawsuit by Armstrong in July and that, “the judge wrote that the cyclist’s case was was full of legally irrelevant claims ‘included solely to increase media coverage of this case’ and stir up hostility toward the USADA.”
So, who knows? Maybe Sparks's latest dismissal was the final straw for Armstrong, the one that finally got him to the point where he simply decided he couldn't deal with it anymore.
As I wrote back in June, I still want to believe Armstrong when he calls the charges a “witch hunt.” But now I’m more confused than ever. For some reason, I’m reminded of the lyrics from one of my favorite REM songs, “Monty Got A Raw Deal”: “Nonsense has a welcome ring. And heroes don’t come easy.”
Do you believe Lance Armstrong is telling the truth about not doping? Let us know in the comments.
Lawrence Karol is a writer and editor who lives with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet staffer and enjoys writing about design, food, travel and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence | TakePart.com