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Tour titles under threat as Lance Armstrong banned for life

This July 23, 2000 file photo shows Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong riding down the Champs Elysees with an American flag after the 21st and final stage of the cycling race in Paris.

Associated Press

The international body that governs cycling says it will wait for more information before acting on a request to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins.

The superstar cyclist on Thursday gave up his fight against the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which accuses him using performance enhancing drugs to cheat throughout his career. Under USADA rules, his decision not to contest the allegations effectively means that he has acknowledged his guilt.

"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes," said USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart. "It's a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There's no success in cheating to win."

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The agency announced Friday a lifetime ban for Mr. Armstrong. It also said that he would forfeit "any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes" won since August 1, 1998, which would include his Tour titles.

On Friday the Union Cycliste Internationale, which oversees the sport internationally, offered the slimmest of lifelines to Mr. Armstrong, saying that it would not act immediately on the USADA request. In a statement, the UCI noted that the rules required that USADA submit an explanation of its actions.

"As USADA has claimed jurisdiction in the case the UCI expects that it will issue a reasoned decision in accordance with Article 8.3 of the [World Anti-Doping] Code," the organization said.

The statement did not make clear whether this was a pro forma regulatory matter or whether the agency was considering refusing the USADA's request. A representative at the UCI's office in Switzerland said there would be no comment beyond the statement, which noted that the agency would say nothing more "until such time as USADA delivers this decision."

Mr. Armstrong came back from cancer to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles, the most by any cyclist. But doping allegations hung over much of his career and he was never able to outrun their shadow, in spite of repeated libel actions. He retired from cycling in 2005 and then returned to the sport in 2009. According to the USADA's case against him, tests in 2009 and 2010 turned up results "fully consistent" with blood doping.

In a statement late Thursday night, Mr. Armstrong denied that quitting the USADA process was an admission of guilt and said he was simply tired of the "nonsense."

"I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair," he said. "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."

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With a report from The Associated Press

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