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USADA Demands Armstrong Lose Tour De France Titles

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong at a 2010 charity function
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has imposed a lifetime ban against cyclist Lance Armstrong, demanding the legendary rider's disqualification from all competitions since 1998.

The decision comes after Armstrong announced one day earlier that he would not challenge doping charges that were brought against him in June by the USADA.

The move sets the stage for Armstrong to be stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles.

USADA chief Travis Tygart says the sport's governing body, the Switzerland-based Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), has no other choice under the World Anti-Doping Code.

But the UCI, which had backed Armstrong's legal challenge to the USADA, said on August 24 that the code requires in cases where there has not been a hearing for the USADA to first explain why Armstrong should lose his titles.

Will The Questions Never End?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an independent foundation that monitors the code, says the USADA 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 the drug charges would be seen as an admission of guilt.

He also said he was disappointed Armstrong's case would not be heard in an open court to test "the accusations, the innuendo, the rumors that have been going round for years" so the world can know what the facts were.

Armstrong, pointing to hundreds of drug tests that he has passed over the years, continues to deny using performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong Calls It A 'Witch Hunt'

Armstrong says he is a victim of an "unconstitutional witch hunt" and was merely refusing to enter an arbitration process that he thinks is unfair.

He said he is tired of battling endless allegations of doping and would now devote his time to his family and to his anticancer foundation.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor who is considered one of the all-time greats in his sport, said in his statement: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.'"

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.

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.