Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace is now official. His seven Tour de France titles are gone and he’s no longer welcome in the sport that made him a legend.
On Monday, the sport’s governing body, The International Cycling Union, accepted the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that declared Armstrong cheated and ran a massive doping program on his teams.
"The UCI will recognize the sanction that USADA has imposed, and the UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles." said UCI President Pat McQuaid. "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, he deserves to be forgotten in cycling."
The Plano native will have each of his records erased from the books and he’s banned from professional cycling for life.
Locally, this is a huge disappointment for many in cycling world. The owner of Richardson Bike Mart, Jim Hoyte, who helped Armstrong get his start in cycling, is now witnessing in the end to Armstrong’s career.
“It’s real sad this has happened, all of us who supported Lance, have supported Lance, will continue to support Lance,” said Hoyte.
If you look around Hoyte’s store, you can see he stands behind Lance Armstrong. There are dozens of Armstrong’s autographed pictures, shirts, and flags.
Hoyte was there as Armstrong developed his passion for the sport.
“He’s like a son to us. We’ve known him since he was 7 or 8 years old. First it was BMX, then is was triathlons, then in ’89 he wanted to do road racing,” said Hoyte.
Hoyte was also there as Armstrong won his first Tour de France title in 1999 and every year after that. “I was there for all 7. There’s no doubt who won all 7 Tour de Frances,” said Hoyte.
That’s not what the record books will now show. The Anti-Doping Agency insists Armstrong used steroids, blood boosters, and blood transfusions to win, and has testimony from teammates about the drug use.
“They can ever take them away from him, he won them. I believe we get into these witch hunts. It’s a shame we have to go and dig, and dig, and dig,” said Armstrong's former Plano neighbor John Applegate.
All along, Armstrong denied the doping. There’s a lesson Hoyte hopes the up-and-coming riders he now supports in his junior program will take away from Armstrong’s downfall.
“There’s so much pressure to win. Cycling’s one of the most grueling sports you can do. Don’t succumb to the pressure of recovery,” said Hoyte. “We’ve all got choices. But when the whole peloton is doing it, and you don’t, you don’t have a chance.”
Armstrong also just stepped down as Chairman of “Livestrong,” the cancer awareness charity he started more than a decade ago after surviving testicular cancer. Applegate feels that’s Armstrong’s real legacy.
“Athletics is just athletics. The fight for cancer is what he should be remembered for,” Applegate said.