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USADA strips Armstrong of Tour titles, adds lifetime ban

Colorado Springs, CO (Sports Network) - The United States Anti-Doping Agency has disqualified all of Lance Armstrong's results dating back to 1998, including each of his seven Tour de France victories, and issued the cycling star a lifetime ban for his alleged involvement in a doping conspiracy.

Armstrong, on Thursday night, said he would not continue his fight against USADA in the wake of the agency's allegations. He had the right to move forward with an arbitration process, but decided against it.

The USADA release on Friday said Armstrong engaged in doping violations from at least Aug. 1, 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions. The Texan won his seven Tour de France titles in succession from 1999-2005. He battled doping allegations throughout his incredible run and never failed a drug test.

"Nobody wins when an athlete decides to cheat with dangerous performance enhancing drugs, but clean athletes at every level expect those of us here on their behalf, to pursue the truth to ensure the win-at-all-cost culture does not permanently overtake fair, honest competition," said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in a statement Friday. "Any time we have overwhelming proof of doping, our mandate is to initiate the case through the process and see it to conclusion as was done in this case."

Armstrong could have contested the evidence, but on Thursday said any hearing with USADA would have been "one-sided and unfair," and called Tygart's investigation a "witch hunt."

USADA sent Armstrong and five other people, including three team doctors and two team officials formerly associated with the United States Postal Service team, a letter on June 12, informing them that the agency had evidence they engaged in doping.

On June 28, USADA charged Armstrong and the other five individuals with rules violations after an independent review panel's finding confirmed "sufficient and in fact overwhelming evidence."

USADA said it had numerous witnesses that would provide evidence of Armstrong using, attempting to use or possessing EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents. The agency also said blood samples from the 2009 Tour de France, when Armstrong returned from a brief retirement, show "use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions."

Witnesses, according to USADA, also provided evidence that Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005.

Armstrong said that the investigation by USADA hasn't been about learning the truth, but instead has been about punishing him at all costs.

In his statement Thursday night, Armstrong disputed Tygart's assertions.

"Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims," Armstrong wrote on his personal website. "The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?"

Armstrong tried litigation against USADA after the allegations surfaced in June, but a federal judge dismissed the cyclist's lawsuit on Monday.

"The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced," Armstrong concluded in his statement. "The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It's an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It's just not right."

At the end of his statement, Armstrong said instead of addressing the doping allegations, he will focus on his work from his foundation, which has raised nearly $500 million for cancer survivors.

08/24 21:22:10 ET