LOS ANGELES - Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong said on Friday he would no longer fight doping charges by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which quickly said it would strip him of his titles and ban him from competitive cycling.
Armstrong, a cancer survivor considered one of the all-time greats in his sport, made the announcement in a written statement as he faced a midnight deadline on Thursday to formally challenge the accusations against him.
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough'," the American cyclist said in the statement, which was posted on his website, Lancearmstrong.com.
"For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999."
A short time later a spokeswoman for the USADA, Annie Skinner, said the agency would strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from the sport of professional cycling for life.
"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes," Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive officer, said in a statement released to Reuters by the agency.
"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," he said.