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Cycling Legend Lance Armstrong Quits Doping Fight, Could Lose Titles

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong at the start of the 21st stage of the 2005 Tour de France
Lance Armstrong is expected to lose his record-setting titles after the cycling legend said he would no longer fight doping charges brought by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

In a statement late on August 23, Armstrong called the process against him unfair and said he was finished fighting the charges. He said he will now devote himself to his family and anticancer foundation.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor considered one of the all-time greats in his sport, made the announcement in a written statement as he faced a midnight deadline to formally challenge the accusations that he used illegal performance-enhancing substances.

He had last competed when he came out of retirement to race for Kazakhstan's Team Astana in the Tour de France in 2009 and 2010, placing third and 23rd, respectively.

The statement posted on Armstrong's website ahead of the appeals deadline said: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.'"

"For me, that time is now," it said. "I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven [Tour de France titles] since 1999."

Titles Stripped

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Armstrong would be stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned for the rest of his life from competitive cycling.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said the U.S. agency has the "right to apply a penalty that will be recognized" around the world.

WADA chief John Fahey said Armstrong's decision not to fight drug charges would be seen as an admission of guilt, and that he was disappointed the American would not face a tribunal so the allegations could receive an open hearing.

"I would have liked to see the accusations, the innuendo, the rumors that have been going round for years tested in an open tribunal and a proper process, whatever the outcome was, so the whole world would have known what the facts were," Fahey told ABC radio.

Charges that Armstrong has used performance-enhancing drugs have dogged the 40-year-old from the state of Texas throughout his career.

Armstrong became a hero to many as he claimed one victory after another in cycling's most prestigious races after overcoming a battle with cancer in the mid-1990s.

In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. He successfully underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and subsequently used his fame to promote cancer awareness and to raise money for charities that support cancer victims.

Armstrong won the Tour de France, cycling most famous race, an unprecedented seven straight times between 1999 and 2005 while racing for the U.S. Postal team. During those races and others, he underwent hundreds of tests for performance-enhancing drugs and was never found to have cheated.

For years, Armstrong cited his unblemished record on those tests as evidence he had never resorted to doping -- a practice that has stained the reputation of the Tour de France and the cycling world in general. Testing has revealed many of the sport's stellar performers of recent decades to have been cheats.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa