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Cyclist Legend Lance Armstrong Announces Retirement
In a formal address issued Wednesday, February 16, to USA Cycling, Lance Armstrong, the seven time Tour de France winner, announced his retirement-for good. Armstrong, 39, retired in 2005 but then attempted to return to the sport in 2007. After some success (3rd place in the Tour de France, his first race back), Armstrong flamed out (65th place in his last race, the Tour Down Under), according to ESPN. The man who helped the sport of cycling gain recognition in the US, Armstrong claimed he wanted to spend more time with his kids and focus more of his effort on his fight against cancer. However, there is speculation that the ongoing investigation into whether or not he used performance enhancing drugs pressured him into the decision.
“My focus now is raising my five children, promoting the mission of Livestrong, and growing entrepreneurial ventures with our great corporate partners in the fight against cancer," Armstrong said in his address, Reuters reported.
According to the New York Times, the reasons Armstrong gave were the same reasons he used in 2005 when he first announced retirement. But since that time there has been much controversy surrounding Armstrong. Last year Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis (a confessed cheater himself), accused Armstrong and his teammates George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, and David Zabriskie, all of the U.S. Postal Service Racing Team, of using performance enhancing drugs and methods. Landis, who admitted to doping in 2002, his first year as a teammate of Armstrong’s, has sparked an investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency into Armstrong’s past. According to the Times, Armstrong never tested positive for doping and will now no longer be tested by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The World Anti-Doping Agency, however, will still continue drug tests of Armstrong.
Despite the claims and accusations, Armstrong doesn’t seem concerned about the matter.
"They [the investigators] can keep looking. If you're trying to hide something, you wouldn't keep getting away with it for 10 years. Nobody is that clever," he told Reuters.
"I can't control what goes on in regards to the investigation. That's why I hire people to help me with that. I try not to let it bother me and just keep rolling right along. I know what I know, I know what I do and I know what I did. That's not going to change," Armstrong said in the address, according to ESPN.
Armstrong shares a similar view in regards to Landis’s claims.
“I would say I’m surprised, but I’m not,” Armstrong told the Times. “He has no proof.”
Regardless of the allegations concerning what his motives were for retiring, he is still respected in the cycling community. Armstrong is credited with being a major factor in the boom in U.S. cycling.
"His legacy for our sport is unprecedented. He managed to make an entire country aware of the sport. He put it on the radar screen of a lot of young people and in a sense legitimized it," USA Cycling chief executive Steve Johnson told Reuters.
"His contribution to cycling has been enormous, from both the sporting point of view and his personality. All sports need global icons and he has become a global icon for cycling. The sport of cycling has a lot to be thankful for because of Lance Armstrong,” said International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid, in a telephone interview with the AP.
Armstrong’s legacy remains untarnished in the views of fellow riders, as well.
"He's leaving a real legacy and to come back and get third in the Tour at the age he was and after what he'd already accomplished is pretty impressive," Christian Vande Velde, Armstrong's former team mate, told Reuters.
"It was time for him to stop. He's won everything, had nothing left to prove to anybody," cyclist Eddie Merckx told Reuters.
Now that he’s retired, Armstrong will continue to work on his fight against cancer. According to the Times, he is currently lobbying in Washington for a tobacco tax, which will help benefit cancer research. As far as riding goes, Armstrong will continue to ride in charities and fund raisers, and potentially some competitive races, such as the Tour of California, according to the Times.