Social media rallies in defence of Lance Armstrong after Tour de France legend ends fight against USADA
Source: Armstrong website, Facebook, Twitter
Seven time Tour de France winner and one of the most recognisable figures in cycling, Lance Armstrong, has announced he is to end his three year fight against United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), calling the procedure a "farce" and condemning USADA director Travis Tygart's "unconstitutional witch hunt" which has resulted in a two year federal investigation of Armstrong. Armstrong released the news in a statement on his website and Facebook page which described USADA's investigation as a "pitiful charade".
"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. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. 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?", read Armstrong's statement.
Armstrong now seems set to be stripped of his seven Tour titles and Olympic medal although the cyclist himself dismisses USADA's authority to do so after saying "enough is enough" and that he is "finished with this nonsense".
"USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart," added Armstrong.
In response Tygart released a statement through USADA which described the news as "heart-breaking" and claimed that this case is in the 'best interests of the sport'.
"This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition, but for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
"But for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs," said Tygart.
Armstrong's Facebook page was awash with support from loyal fans around the world with over 17,000 people liking the statement, more than 3,500 people commenting on the piece (largely in support of the cyclist) and nearly 4,000 people sharing the content. Lance Armstrong, USADA and Travis Tygart have been trending on Twitter since the news was released and Armstrong's statement was also re-tweeted from his Twitter handle (@lancearmstrong) over 13,000 times as the story continues to create a buzz on the micro-blogging site. Where his 2.3 million fans on Facebook and over 3.5 million followers on Twitter were largely in support of Armstrong, many see his dropping of the case as an admission of guilt, a point noted by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey on the BBC Sport website.