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The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) threw up a shocker in July 2012 when they commenced formal procedures against seven times Tour de France winner and professional road racing cyclist, Lance Armstrong, for having used illicit performance enhancing drugs. On August 24, 2012, the USADA stripped Armstrong of all his wins since August 1998 including his Tour de France wins and handed him a lifetime ban from competitive cycling. The agency's disclosure of Armstrong and his team's prolonged usage and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs left the cyclist's huge fan following disappointed and feeling cheated. As the fallout continued, Armstrong's three major sponsors - sports gear maker Nike, cycle maker Trek, and beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch - severed ties with him.

Armstrong started his career as a triathlete and started professional cycling with the Motorola team in 1992. Having bagged a number of successes including the World Championship in 1993, and the Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995, Armstrong was looking at a successful career when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. Following surgeries and chemotherapy, he returned to the world of sports as a triumphant survivor. He set up his cancer foundation – the Lance Armstrong Foundation – in 1997. Armstrong's return from cancer to dominate the tough world of professional cycling and his serial victory in Tour de France, what is acknowledged to be the toughest cycling tournament accorded him a superhero status.

When the USADA released a report including sworn statements from 26 witnesses and former team-mates, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of his cancer charity Livestrong. The USADA report called him a "serial cheat who led the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen". The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) endorsed USADA's verdict bringing Armstrong's career to an end. Armstrong's fall from grace opened up a heated global debate about the use of drugs in sports.
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Last Updated on: October 1st, 2021