It's official: Lance Armstrong did not win seven Tour de France races in his career. Oh, Armstrong may have technically crossed the finish line first every year from 1999 to 2005, but you'll find no mention of his accomplishments in the record books.
Armstrong's name has been officially stricken from the Tour's list of winners, and the cyclist has been banned for life from the sport for doping. The International Cycling Union ended years of legal battles this week by erasing Armstrong from its record books.
Armstrong has fiercely defending his reputation, never admitting to doping and steadfastly sticking to his story that his return from life-threatening cancer to become the sport's most decorated rider was done legally and without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
But after a lengthy, detailed report was released weeks ago by the U.S.?Anti-Doping Agency, Armstrong may be one of the few people who still believe that story. The evidence in the report is overwhelming. The 200-page document provides testimony by former teammates of Armstrong, as well as supporting documents that all point directly to Armstrong not only using banned substances himself, but also to the famous rider bullying teammates into using drugs, orchestrating an elaborate system to cover up suspicious drug test results and systematically using employees to help him hide needle marks and other physical indications of his doping.
His athletic career is in tatters, and it's not getting any better for Armstrong. He has resigned as chairman of his cancer foundation, he has been dropped from virtually all of his lucrative endorsement deals, and Tour de France officials are considering suing Armstrong for repayment of prize money he won as the tour winner. If there's an investigation, he could also be stripped of the Olympic bronze medal he won in 2000.
It all adds up to a mighty fall from grace for an athlete who dominated his sport for nearly a decade.