Lance Edward Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. Armstrong is the 1993 professional world champion, and won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005. However, in 2012, he was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life as a result of long-term doping offenses. As part of those sanctions, all results going back to August 1998, including his seven Tour wins, were voided.
At age 16, Armstrong began competing as a triathlete and was a national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990. In 1992, Armstrong began his career as a professional cyclist with the Motorola team. He had notable success between 1993 and 1996, including stage 8 of the Tour de France and the World Championship in 1993, the Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995, Tour DuPont in 1995 and 1996, and a handful of stage victories in Europe, including stage 18 of the 1995 Tour de France.
In 1996, he was diagnosed with a potentially fatal metastatic testicular cancer. After his recovery, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation (now the Livestrong Foundation) to assist other cancer survivors.
Returning to cycling in 1998, he was a member of the US Postal/Discovery team between 1998 and 2005, when he won his Tour de France titles, as well as a bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Armstrong retired from racing at the end of the 2005 Tour de France, but returned to competitive cycling with the Astana team in January 2009, finishing third in the 2009 Tour de France later that year. Between 2010 and 2011, he raced with Team Radio Shack, the UCI ProTeam he helped found. He retired for a second time in 2011.
Armstrong had been the subject of doping allegations ever since winning the 1999 Tour de France. In 2012, a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation concluded that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career and named him as the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Armstrong chose not to contest the charges, citing the potential toll on his family. As a result, he received a lifetime ban from all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Code—effectively ending his competitive career. He was also stripped of all of his achievements from August 1998 onward, including his seven Tour de France titles. The Union Cycliste Internationale upheld USADA’s decision and decided that his stripped wins would not be allocated to other riders. Armstrong chose not to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In a 2013 interview, Armstrong confessed that some of the allegations were true. He has declined to testify about the full extent of his use of the drugs. In the aftermath of his fall from grace, a CNN article wrote that “The epic downfall of cycling’s star, once an idolized icon of millions around the globe, stands out in the history of professional sports.”
Armstrong was born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971, at Methodist Hospital in Plano, Texas, north of Dallas to Linda Gayle (née Mooneyham), a secretary, and Eddie Charles Gunderson, a route manager for The Dallas Morning News. His great-grandfather was the son of Norwegian immigrants. He was named after Lance Rentzel, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. His parents divorced in 1973 when Lance was two. The next year, his mother married Terry Keith Armstrong, a wholesale salesman, who adopted Lance that year. Eddie Gunderson died in 2012.
At the age of 12, Armstrong started his sporting career as a swimmer at the City of Plano Swim Club and finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. He stopped swimming-only races after seeing a poster for a junior triathlon, called the Iron Kids Triathlon, which he won at age 13.
In the 1987–1988 Tri-Fed/Texas (“Tri-Fed” was the former name of USA Triathlon), Armstrong was ranked the number-one triathlete in the 19-and-under group; second place was Chann McRae, who became a US Postal Service cycling teammate and the 2002 USPRO national champion. Armstrong’s total points in 1987 as an amateur were better than those of five professionals ranked higher than he was that year. At 16, Lance Armstrong became a professional triathlete and became national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at 18 and 19, respectively.
In 1992 Armstrong turned professional with the Motorola Cycling Team, the successor of 7-Eleven team. In 1993, Armstrong won 10 one-day events and stage races, but his breakthrough victory was the World Road Race Championship held in Norway. Before his World Championships win, he took his first win at the Tour de France, in the stage from Châlons-sur-Marne to Verdun. He was 97th in the general classification when he retired after stage 12. He collected the Thrift Drug Triple Crown of Cycling: the Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh, the K-Mart West Virginia Classic, and the CoreStates USPRO national championship in Philadelphia. He is alleged by another cyclist competing in the CoreStates Road Race to have bribed that cyclist so that he would not compete with Armstrong for the win.
In 1994, he again won the Thrift Drug Classic and came second in the Tour DuPont in the United States. His successes in Europe occurred when he placed second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Clásica de San Sebastián, where just two years before, he had finished in last place as his first all-pro event in Europe. He won the Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995, followed by an overall victory in the penultimate Tour DuPont and a handful of stage victories in Europe, including the stage to Limoges in the Tour de France, three days after the death of his teammate Fabio Casartelli, who crashed on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet on the 15th stage. After winning the stage, Armstrong pointed to the sky in honor of Casartelli.
Armstrong’s successes were much the same in 1996. He became the first American to win the La Flèche Wallonne and again won the Tour DuPont. However, he was able to compete for only five days in the Tour de France. In the 1996 Olympic Games, he finished 6th in the time trial and 12th in the road race. In August 1996 following the Leeds Classic, Armstrong signed a 2-year, $2m deal with the French Cofidis Cycling Team. Joining him in signing contracts with the French team were teammates Frankie Andreu and Laurent Madouas. Two months later, in October 1996, he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer.
Cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery
On October 2, 1996, at age 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three (advanced) testicular cancer (embryonal carcinoma). The cancer had spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen. He visited urologist Jim Reeves in Austin, Texas for diagnosis of his symptoms, including coughing up blood and a swollen testicle. On October 3, Armstrong had an orchiectomy to remove the diseased testicle. Asked in a later interview what he thought Armstrong’s chances of survival were, Reeves said “Almost none. We told Lance initially 20 to 50% chance, mainly to give him hope. But with the kind of cancer he had, with the x-rays, the blood tests, almost no hope.”
After receiving a letter from Steven Wolff, an oncologist at Vanderbilt University, Armstrong went to the Indiana University medical center in Indianapolis and decided to receive the rest of his treatment there. The standard treatment for Armstrong’s cancer was a “cocktail” of the drugs bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin (or Platinol) (BEP). The first chemotherapy cycle that Armstrong underwent included BEP, but for the three remaining cycles, he was given an alternative, vinblastine etoposide, ifosfamide, and cisplatin (VIP), to avoid lung toxicity associated with bleomycin. Armstrong credited this with saving his cycling career. At Indiana University, Lawrence Einhorn had pioneered the use of cisplatin to treat testicular cancer. Armstrong’s primary oncologist there was Craig Nichols. On October 25, his brain lesions which were found to contain extensive necrosis, were surgically removed by Scott A. Shapiro, a professor of neurosurgery at Indiana University.
Armstrong’s final chemotherapy treatment took place on December 13, 1996. In February 1997, he was declared cancer-free. Shortly afterward he was told that his contract with the Cofidis team had been cancelled. A former boss at Subaru Montgomery offered him a contract with the US Postal team at a salary of $200,000 a year. By January 1998, Armstrong was engaged in serious training for racing, moving to Europe with the team.
US Postal/Discovery: 1998–2005
Before his cancer treatment, Armstrong had participated in four Tour de France races, winning two stages. In 1993, he won the eighth stage and in 1995; he took stage 18 which he dedicated to teammate Fabio Casartelli who had crashed and died on stage 15. Armstrong dropped out of the 1996 Tour after the fifth stage after becoming ill, a few months before his diagnosis.
Armstrong’s cycling comeback began in 1998 when he finished fourth in the Vuelta a España. In 1999 he won the Tour de France, including four stages. He beat the second place rider, Alex Zülle, by 7 minutes 37 seconds. However, the absence of Jan Ullrich (injury) and Marco Pantani (drug allegations) meant Armstrong had not yet proven himself against the biggest names in the sport. Stage wins included the prologue, stage eight, an individual time trial in Metz, an Alpine stage on stage nine, and the second individual time trial on stage 19.
In 2000, Ullrich and Pantani returned to challenge Armstrong. The race began a six-year rivalry between Ullrich and Armstrong and ended in victory for Armstrong by 6 minutes 2 seconds over Ullrich. Armstrong took one stage in the 2000 Tour, the second individual time trial on stage 19. In 2001, Armstrong again took top honors, beating Ullrich by 6 minutes 44 seconds. In 2002, Ullrich did not participate due to suspension, and Armstrong won by seven minutes over Joseba Beloki.
The pattern returned in 2003, Armstrong taking first place and Ullrich second. Only a minute and a second separated the two at the end of the final day in Paris. U.S. Postal won the team time trial on stage four, while Armstrong took stage 15, despite having been knocked off on the ascent to Luz Ardiden, the final climb, when a spectator’s bag caught his right handlebar. Ullrich waited for him, which brought Ullrich fair-play honors.
In 2004, Armstrong finished first, 6 minutes 19 seconds ahead of German Andreas Klöden. Ullrich was fourth, a further 2 minutes 31 seconds behind. Armstrong won a personal-best five individual stages, plus the team time trial. He became the first biker since Gino Bartali in 1948 to win three consecutive mountain stages; 15, 16, and 17. The individual time trial on stage 16 up Alpe d’Huez was won in style by Armstrong as he passed Ivan Basso on the way despite having set out two minutes after the Italian. He won sprint finishes from Basso in stages 13 and 15 and made up a significant gap in the last 250 m to nip Klöden at the line in stage 17. He won the final individual time trial, stage 19, to complete his personal record of stage wins.
In 2005, Armstrong was beaten by American David Zabriskie in the stage 1 time trial by two seconds, despite having passed Ullrich on the road. His Discovery Channel team won the team time trial, while Armstrong won the final individual time trial. In the mountain stages, Armstrong’s lead was attacked multiple times mostly by Ivan Basso, but also by T-mobile leaders Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden and Alexandre Vinokourov and former teammate Levi Leipheimer. But still, the American champion handled them well, maintained his lead and, on some occasions, increased it. To complete his record-breaking feat, he crossed the line on the Champs-Élysées on July 24 to win his seventh consecutive Tour, finishing 4 m 40s ahead of Basso, with Ullrich third. Another record achieved that year was that Armstrong completed the tour at the highest pace in the race’s history: his average speed over the whole tour was 41.7 km/h (26 mph). In 2005, Armstrong announced he would retire after the 2005 Tour de France.
Armstrong announced on September 9, 2008, that he would return to pro cycling with the express goal of participating in the 2009 Tour de France. VeloNews reported that Armstrong would race for no salary or bonuses and would post his internally tested blood results online.
Australian ABC radio reported on September 24, 2008, that Armstrong would compete in the UCI Tour Down Under through Adelaide and surrounding areas in January 2009. UCI rules say a cyclist has to be in an anti-doping program for six months before an event, but UCI allowed Armstrong to compete. He had to retire from the 2009 Vuelta a Castilla y León during the first stage after crashing in a rider pileup in Baltanás, Spain, and breaking his collarbone. Armstrong flew back to Austin, Texas, for corrective surgery, which was successful, and was back training on a bicycle within four days of his operation.
On April 10, 2009, a controversy emerged between the French anti-doping agency AFLD and Armstrong and his team manager, Johan Bruyneel, stemming from a March 17, 2009, encounter with an AFLD anti-doping official who visited Armstrong after a training ride in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. When the official arrived, Armstrong claims he asked—and was granted—permission to take a shower while Bruyneel checked the official’s credentials. In late April, the AFLD cleared Armstrong of any wrongdoing. Armstrong returned to racing after his collarbone injury at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico on April 29.
On July 7, in the fourth stage of the 2009 Tour de France, Armstrong narrowly failed to win the yellow jersey after his Astana team won the team time trial. His Astana team won the 39 km lap of Montpellier but Armstrong ended up just over two tenths of a second (0.22) outside Fabian Cancellara’s overall lead. Armstrong finished the 2009 Tour de France in third place overall, 5:24 behind the overall winner, his Astana teammate Alberto Contador.
Team RadioShack: 2010–11
On July 21, 2009, Armstrong announced that he would return to the Tour de France in 2010. RadioShack was named as the main sponsor for Armstrong’s 2010 team, named Team RadioShack. Armstrong made his 2010 season debut at the Tour Down Under where he finished 25th out of the 127 riders who completed the race. He made his European season debut at the 2010 Vuelta a Murcia finishing in seventh place overall. Armstrong was also set to compete in several classics such as the Milan–San Remo, Amstel Gold Race, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and the Tour of Flanders, but bouts with gastroenteritis forced his withdrawal from three of the four races.
Armstrong returned to the United States in mid-April to compete in the Tour of Gila and May’s Tour of California, both as preparation for the Tour de France. However, he crashed outside Visalia early in stage 5 of the Tour of California and had to withdraw from the race. He showed fine shape after recovering from the Tour of California crash, placing second in the Tour of Switzerland and third in the Tour of Luxembourg.
On June 28, Armstrong announced via Twitter that the 2010 edition would be his final Tour de France. Armstrong put in an impressive performance in the Tour’s prologue time trial, finishing third, but was plagued by crashes in later stages that put him out of general classification contention, especially a serious crash in stage 8. He rallied for the brutal Pyreneean stage 16, working as a key player in a successful break that included teammate Chris Horner. He finished his last tour in 23rd place, 39 minutes 20 seconds behind former winner Alberto Contador. He was also a key rider in helping Team RadioShack win the team competition, beating Caisse d’Epargne by 9 minutes, 15 seconds. In October, he announced the end of his international career after the Tour Down Under in January 2011. He stated that after January 2011, he will race only in the U.S. with the Radioshack domestic team.
Armstrong announced his retirement from competitive cycling ‘for good’ on February 16, 2011, while still facing a US federal investigation into doping allegations.
Armstrong has recorded an aerobic capacity of 83.8 mL/kg/min (VO2 max), much higher than the average person (40–50), but lower than some other Tour de France winners, such as Miguel Indurain (88.0, although reports exist that Indurain tested at 92–94) and Greg LeMond (92.5). At his peak, he had a resting heart rate of 32–34 beats per minute (bpm) with a maximum heart rate of 201 bpm.
Collaboration of sponsors
Armstrong revolutionized the support behind his well-funded teams, asking sponsors and suppliers to contribute and act as part of the team. For example, rather than having the frame, handlebars, and tires designed and developed by separate companies with little interaction, his teams adopted a Formula One relationship with sponsors and suppliers named “F-One”, taking full advantage of the combined resources of several organizations working in close communication. The team, Trek, Nike, AMD, Bontrager (a Trek company), Shimano, Sram, Giro and Oakley, collaborated for an array of products.
Doping allegations, investigation and confession
For much of his career, Armstrong faced persistent allegations of doping. Armstrong denied all such allegations until January 2013, often claiming that he never had any positive test in the drug tests he has taken over his cycling career.
Armstrong has been criticized for his disagreements with outspoken opponents of doping such as Paul Kimmage and Christophe Bassons. Bassons was a rider for Festina at the time of the Festina affair and was widely reported by teammates as being the only rider on the team not to be taking performance-enhancing drugs. Bassons wrote a number of articles for a French newspaper during the 1999 Tour de France which made references to doping in the peloton. Subsequently, Armstrong had an altercation with Bassons during the 1999 Tour de France where Bassons said Armstrong rode up alongside on the Alpe d’Huez stage to tell him “it was a mistake to speak out the way I (Bassons) do and he (Armstrong) asked why I was doing it. I told him that I’m thinking of the next generation of riders. Then he said ‘Why don’t you leave, then?'”
Armstrong confirmed the story. On the main evening news on TF1, a national television station, Armstrong said, “His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home”. Kimmage, a professional cyclist in the 1980s who later became a sports journalist, referred to Armstrong as a “cancer in cycling”. He also asked Armstrong questions in relation to his “admiration for dopers” at a press conference at the Tour of California in 2009, provoking a scathing reaction from Armstrong. This spat continued and is exemplified by Kimmage’s articles in The Irish Independent.
Armstrong continued to deny the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs for four more years, describing himself as the most tested athlete in the world. From his return to cycling in the fall of 2008 through March 2009, Armstrong claims to have submitted to 24 unannounced drug tests by various anti-doping authorities.
Working with Michele Ferrari
Armstrong was criticized for working with controversial trainer Michele Ferrari. Ferrari claimed that he was introduced to Lance by Eddy Merckx in 1995. Greg LeMond described himself as “devastated” on hearing of them working together, while Tour de France organizer Jean-Marie Leblanc said, “I am not happy the two names are mixed.” Following Ferrari’s later-overturned conviction for “sporting fraud” and “abuse of the medical profession”, Armstrong claimed he suspended his professional relationship with him, saying that he had “zero tolerance for anyone convicted of using or facilitating the use of performance-enhancing drugs” and denying that Ferrari had ever “suggested, prescribed or provided me with any performance-enhancing drugs.”
Though Ferrari was banned from practicing medicine with cyclists by the Italian Cycling Federation, according to Italian law enforcement authorities, Armstrong met with Ferrari as recently as 2010 in a country outside Italy. According to Cycling News, “USADA reveals an intimate role played by Dr. Michele Ferrari in masterminding Armstrong’s Tour de France success”. According to the USADA report, Armstrong paid Ferrari over a million dollars in payments from 1996 to 2006, countering Armstrong’s claim that he severed his professional relationship with Ferrari in 2004. The report also includes numerous eyewitness accounts of Ferrari injecting Armstrong with EPO on a number of occasions.
L.A. Confidentiel: 2004
In 2004, reporters Pierre Ballester and David Walsh published a book alleging Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs (L.A. Confidentiel – Les secrets de Lance Armstrong). Another figure in the book, Steve Swart, claims he and other riders, including Armstrong, began using drugs in 1995 while members of the Motorola team, a claim denied by other team members.
Among the allegations in the book were claims by Armstrong’s former soigneur Emma O’Reilly that a backdated prescription for cortisone had been produced in 1999 to avoid a positive test. A 1999 urine sample at the Tour de France showed traces of corticosteroid. A medical certificate showed he used an approved cream for saddle sores which contained the substance. O’Reilly said she heard team officials worrying about Armstrong’s positive test for steroids during the Tour. She said: “They were in a panic, saying: ‘What are we going to do? What are we going to do?'”
According to O’Reilly, the solution was to get one of their compliant doctors to issue a pre-dated prescription for a steroid-based ointment to combat saddle sores. He said she would have known if Armstrong had saddle sores as she would have administered any treatment for it. O’Reilly said that Armstrong told her: “Now, Emma, you know enough to bring me down.” O’Reilly said on other occasions she was asked to dispose of used syringes for Armstrong and pick up strange parcels for the team.
Allegations in the book were reprinted in The Sunday Times (UK) by deputy sports editor Alan English in June 2004. Armstrong sued for libel, and the paper settled out of court after a High Court judge in a pre-trial ruling stated that the article “meant accusation of guilt and not simply reasonable grounds to suspect.” The newspaper’s lawyers issued the statement: “The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr. Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance-enhancing drugs and sincerely apologized for any such impression.” The same authors (Pierre Ballester and David Walsh) subsequently published L.A. Official and Le Sale Tour (The Dirty Trick), further pressing their claims that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.
On March 31, 2005, Mike Anderson filed a brief in Travis County District Court in Texas, as part of a legal battle following his termination in November 2004 as an employee of Armstrong. Anderson worked for Armstrong for two years as a personal assistant. In the brief, Anderson claimed that he discovered a box of androstenone while cleaning a bathroom in Armstrong’s apartment in Girona, Spain. Androstenone is not on the list of banned drugs. Anderson stated in a subsequent deposition that he had no direct knowledge of Armstrong using a banned substance. Armstrong denied the claim and issued a counter-suit. The two men reached an out-of-court settlement in November 2005; the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
In November 2012, Times Newspapers republished all of Walsh’s articles as well as the original “LA Confidential” article by Alan English in Lanced: The shaming of Lance Armstrong. The Times is said to be considering taking action to recoup money from Armstrong in relation to the settlement and court costs.
In December 2012 The Sunday Times filed suit against Armstrong for $1.5 million. In its suit, the paper is seeking a return of the original settlement, plus interest and the cost of defending the original case.
In August 2013, Armstrong and The Sunday Times reached an undisclosed settlement.
Tour de France urine tests: 2005
On August 23, 2005, L’Équipe, a major French daily sports newspaper, reported on its front page under the headline “le mensonge Armstrong” (“The Armstrong Lie”) that 6 urine samples taken from the cyclist during the prologue and five stages of the 1999 Tour de France, frozen and stored since at “Laboratoire national de dépistage du dopage de Châtenay-Malabry” (LNDD), had tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) in recent retesting conducted as part of a research project into EPO testing methods.
Armstrong immediately replied on his website, saying, “Unfortunately, the witch hunt continues and tomorrow’s article is nothing short of tabloid journalism. The paper even admits in its own article that the science in question here is faulty and that I have no way to defend myself. They state: ‘There will therefore be no counter-exam nor regulatory prosecutions, in a strict sense, since defendant’s rights cannot be respected.’ I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance enhancing drugs.”
In October 2005, in response to calls from the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for an independent investigation, the UCI appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman to investigate the handling of urine tests by the French national anti-doping laboratory, LNDD. Vrijman was head of the Dutch anti-doping agency for ten years; since then he has worked as a defense attorney defending high-profile athletes against doping charges. Vrijman’s report cleared Armstrong because of improper handling and testing. The report said tests on urine samples were conducted improperly and fell so short of scientific standards that it was “completely irresponsible” to suggest they “constitute evidence of anything.”
The recommendation of the commission’s report was no disciplinary action against any rider on the basis of LNDD research. It also called upon the WADA and LNDD to submit themselves to an investigation by an outside independent authority. The IOC Ethics Commission subsequently censured Dick Pound, the President of WADA and a member of the IOC, for his statements in the media that suggested wrongdoing by Armstrong. In April 2009, Michael Ashenden said “the LNDD absolutely had no way of knowing athlete identity from the sample they’re given. They have a number on them, but that’s never linked to an athlete’s name. The only group that had both the number and the athlete’s name is the federation, in this case it was the UCI.” He added “There was only two conceivable ways that synthetic EPO could’ve gotten into those samples. One, is that Lance Armstrong used EPO during the ’99 Tour. The other way it could’ve got in the urine was if, as Lance Armstrong seems to believe, the laboratory spiked those samples. Now, that’s an extraordinary claim, and there’s never ever been any evidence the laboratory has ever spiked an athlete’s sample, even during the Cold War, where you would’ve thought there was a real political motive to frame an athlete from a different country. There’s never been any suggestion that it happened.”
Ashenden’s statements are at odds with the findings of the Vrijman report. “According to Mr. Ressiot, the manner in which the LNDD had structured the results table of its report – i.e. listing the sequence of each of the batches, as well as the exact number of urine samples per batch, in the same (chronological) order as the stages of the 1999 Tour de France they were collected at – was already sufficient to allow him to determine the exact stage these urine samples referred to and subsequently the identity of the riders who were tested at that stage.” The Vrijman report also says “Le Monde of July 21 and 23, 1999 reveal that the press knew the contents of original doping forms of the 1999 Tour de France”.
SCA Promotions case: 2005–2015
In June 2006, French newspaper Le Monde reported claims by Betsy and Frankie Andreu during a deposition that Armstrong had admitted using performance-enhancing drugs to his physician just after brain surgery in 1996. The Andreus’ testimony was related to litigation between Armstrong and SCA Promotions, a Texas company attempting to withhold a $5-million bonus; this was settled out of court with SCA paying Armstrong and Tailwind Sports $7.5 million, to cover the $5-million bonus plus interest and lawyers’ fees. The testimony stated “And so the doctor asked him a few questions, not many, and then one of the questions he asked was … have you ever used any performance-enhancing drugs? And Lance said yes. And the doctor asked, what were they? And Lance said, growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone.”
Armstrong suggested Betsy Andreu may have been confused by possible mention of his post-operative treatment which included steroids and EPO that are taken to counteract wasting and red-blood-cell-destroying effects of intensive chemotherapy. The Andreus’ allegation was not supported by any of the eight other people present, including Armstrong’s doctor Craig Nichols, or his medical history. According to Greg LeMond (who has been embroiled with his own disputes with Armstrong), he (LeMond) had a recorded conversation, the transcript of which was reviewed by National Public Radio (NPR), with Stephanie McIlvain (Armstrong’s contact at Oakley Inc.) in which she said of Armstrong’s alleged admission ‘You know, I was in that room. I heard it.’ However, McIlvain has contradicted LeMond’s allegations on the issue and denied under oath that the incident in question ever occurred in her sworn testimony.
In July 2006, the Los Angeles Times published a story on the allegations raised in the SCA case. The report cited evidence at the trial including the results of the LNDD test and an analysis of these results by an expert witness. From the Los Angeles Times article: “The results, Australian researcher Michael Ashenden testified in Dallas, show Armstrong’s levels rising and falling, consistent with a series of injections during the Tour. Ashenden, a paid expert retained by SCA Promotions, told arbitrators the results painted a “compelling picture” that the world’s most famous cyclist “used EPO in the ’99 Tour.”
Ashenden’s finding were disputed by the Vrijman report, which pointed to procedural and privacy issues in dismissing the LNDD test results. The Los Angeles Times article also provided information on testimony given by Armstrong’s former teammate, Swart, Andreu and his wife Betsy, and instant messaging conversation between Andreu and Jonathan Vaughters regarding blood-doping in the peloton. Vaughters signed a statement disavowing the comments and stating he had: “no personal knowledge that any team in the Tour de France, including Armstrong’s Discovery team in 2005, engaged in any prohibited conduct whatsoever.” Andreu signed a statement affirming the conversation took place as indicated on the instant messaging logs submitted to the court.
The SCA trial was settled out of court, and the Los Angeles Times reported: “Though no verdict or finding of facts was rendered, Armstrong called the outcome proof that the doping allegations were baseless.” The Los Angeles Times article provides a review of the disputed positive EPO test, allegations and sworn testimony against Armstrong, but notes that: “They are filled with conflicting testimony, hearsay and circumstantial evidence admissible in arbitration hearings but questionable in more formal legal proceedings.”
In October 2012, following the publication of the USADA reasoned decision, SCA Promotions announced its intention to recoup the monies paid to Armstrong totaling in excess of $7 million. Armstrong’s legal representative Tim Herman stated in June: “When SCA decided to settle the case, it settled the entire matter forever. No backs. No re-dos. No do-overs. SCA knowingly and independently waived any right to make further claims to any of the money it paid.” SCA’s Jeff Dorough stated that on October 30, 2012, Armstrong was sent a formal request for the return of $12m in bonuses. It is alleged that Armstrong’s legal team has offered a settlement of $1 million.
On February 4, 2015 the arbitration panel decided 2-1 in SCA’s favor and ordered Armstrong and Tailwind Sports Corp to pay SCA $10 million. The panel’s decision was referred to the Texas 116th Civil District Court in Dallas on February 16, 2015 for confirmation. Panel members Richard Faulkner and Richard Chernick sided with SCA; Ted Lyon sided with Armstrong. Armstrong’s attorney Tim Herman stated that the panel’s ruling was contrary to Texas law and expected that the court would overturn it. The panel’s decision said, in part, about Armstrong that, “Perjury must never be profitable” and “it is almost certainly the most devious sustained deception ever perpetrated in world sporting history.”
On September 27, 2015, Armstrong and SCA agreed to a settlement. Armstrong issued a formal, public apology and agreed to pay SCA an undisclosed sum.
Federal investigation: 2010–2012
In a series of emails in May 2010, Floyd Landis admitted to doping and accused Armstrong and others of the same. Based on Landis’s allegations, U.S. Justice Department federal prosecutors led an investigation into possible crimes conducted by Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team. The Food and Drug Administration and federal agent Jeff Novitzky were also involved in the investigation. In June 2010, Armstrong hired a criminal defense attorney to represent him in the investigation. The hiring was first reported in July when Armstrong was competing in the 2010 Tour de France.
On February 3, 2012, federal prosecutors officially dropped their criminal investigation with no charges. The closing of the case was announced “without an explanation” by U.S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. When Novitzky was asked to comment on it, he declined.
In February 2013, a month after Armstrong admitted to doping, rather than filing criminal charges, the Justice Department joined Landis’s whistle-blower lawsuit against him, to recover government funding given to Armstrong’s cycling team.
USADA investigation: 2011–2012
In June 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accused Armstrong of doping and trafficking of drugs, based on blood samples from 2009 and 2010, and testimonies from witnesses including former teammates. Further, he was accused of putting pressure on teammates to take unauthorized performance-enhancing drugs as well. In October, USADA formally charged him with running a massive doping ring. It also sought to ban him from participating in sports sanctioned by WADA for life. Since all Olympic sports follow the World Anti-Doping Code, USADA’s sanctions would have effectively ended Armstrong’s competitive career. Armstrong chose not to appeal the ban, saying it would not be worth the toll on his family.
After years of public denials, Armstrong reversed course and admitted doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013. While admitting in the interview to the things he did, he also said it was “absolutely not” true that he was doping in 2009–10, and that the last time he “crossed the line” was in 2005.
In September 2013, he was asked by UCI’s new president, Brian Cookson, to testify completely about his doping. Armstrong refused to testify until and unless he got a complete amnesty, which Cookson said is most unlikely to happen.
After USADA’s report, all of Armstrong’s sponsors dropped him. He reportedly lost $75 million of sponsorship income in a day. On May 28, 2013, Nike announced that it would be cutting all ties to Livestrong.
Whistleblower lawsuit: 2010–present
In 2010, one of Armstrong’s former teammates, the American Floyd Landis, whose 2006 Tour De France victory was nullified after a positive doping test, sent a series of emails to cycling officials and sponsors admitting to, and detailing, his systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs during his career. The emails also claimed that other riders and cycling officials participated in doping, including Armstrong.
Landis filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows citizens to sue on behalf of the government alleging the government has been defrauded. The existence of the lawsuit, initially filed under seal, was first revealed by The Wall Street Journal in 2010. In the lawsuit, Landis alleged that Armstrong and team managers defrauded the U.S. government when they accepted money from the U.S. Postal Service. In January 2013, Justice Department officials recommended joining the federal lawsuit aimed at clawing back money from Armstrong.
In February, the United States Department of Justice joined the whistleblower lawsuit, which also accuses former Postal Service team director Johan Bruyneel and Tailwind Sports, the firm that managed the Postal Service team, of defrauding the U.S.
In April 2014, documents from the AIC case were filed by lawyers representing Floyd Landis in relation to the whistleblower suit. In these documents, Armstrong stated under oath that Pepi Marti, Dr Pedro Celaya, Dr Luis Garcia del Moral and Dr Michele Ferrari had all provided him with doping products in the period up until 2005. He also named people who had transported or acted as couriers, as well as people that were aware of his doping practices. One week later, the USADA banned Johan Bruyneel from cycling for 10 years and Pedro Celaya and Jose “Pepi” Marti for eight years.
In June 2014, US district judge Robert Wilkins denied Armstrong’s request to dismiss the government lawsuit stating “The court denies without prejudice the defendants’ motion to dismiss the government’s action as time-barred.”
In February 2017, Lance Armstrong was handed a defeat by a federal judge. The federal government’s $100 million lawsuit, started by his old teammate Floyd Landis, against Lance Armstrong, was decided to proceed to trial. Determination of damages will now be left to a jury. Accordingly, the federal judge denied Armstrong’s request to throw the case out of court.
Other lawsuits: 2010 to present
In November 2013, Armstrong settled a lawsuit with Acceptance Insurance Company (AIC). AIC had sought to recover $3 million it had paid Armstrong as bonuses for winning the Tour de France from 1999 to 2001. The suit was settled for an undisclosed sum one day before Armstrong was scheduled to give a deposition under oath.
Armstrong owns homes in Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colorado, as well as a ranch in the Texas Hill Country.
Relationships and children
Armstrong met Kristin Richard in June 1997. They married on May 1, 1998, and had three children. The pregnancies were made possible through sperm Armstrong banked three years earlier, before chemotherapy and surgery. The couple divorced in 2003. At Armstrong’s request, his children flew to Paris for the Tour de France podium ceremony in 2005, where his son Luke helped his father hoist the trophy, while his daughters (in yellow dresses) held the stuffed lion mascot and bouquet of yellow flowers.
Lance and Kristin Armstrong announced their divorce in 2003, the same year that Lance began dating singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow. The couple announced their engagement in September 2005 and their split in February 2006. In March 2007, Armstrong began dating designer Tory Burch. They announced their breakup in October 2007.
In July 2008, Armstrong began dating Anna Hansen after meeting through Armstrong’s charity work. In December 2008, Armstrong announced that Hansen was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Although it was believed that Armstrong could no longer father children, due to having undergone chemotherapy for testicular cancer, this child was conceived naturally. Armstrong announced the birth of his fourth child via Twitter, just as he would do for his fifth child.
In a The New York Times article, teammate George Hincapie hinted that Armstrong would run for Governor of Texas after cycling. In the July 2005 issue of Outside magazine, Armstrong hinted at running for governor, although “not in ’06”. Armstrong and former president George W. Bush, a Republican and fellow Texan, call themselves friends. Bush called Armstrong in France to congratulate him after his 2005 victory. In August 2005, The Times reported the President had invited Armstrong to his Prairie Chapel Ranch to go mountain biking. In a 2003 interview with The Observer, Armstrong said: “He’s a personal friend, but we’ve all got the right not to agree with our friends.”
In August 2005, Armstrong hinted he had changed his mind about politics. In an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS on August 1, 2005, Armstrong pointed out that running for governor would require the commitment that led him to retire from cycling. Also, in August 2005, Armstrong said that he was no longer considering politics:
The biggest problem with politics or running for the governor—the governor’s race here in Austin or in Texas—is that it would mimic exactly what I’ve done: a ton of stress and a ton of time away from my kids. Why would I want to go from pro cycling, which is stressful and a lot of time away, straight into politics?
Armstrong created a YouTube video in 2007 with former President George H. W. Bush to successfully pass Proposition 15, a US$3 billion taxpayer bond initiative which created the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Armstrong was co-chair of a California campaign committee to pass the California Cancer Research Act, a ballot measure defeated by California voters on June 5, 2012. Had it passed, the measure was projected to generate over $500 million annually for cancer research, smoking-cessation programs and tobacco law-enforcement by levying a $1-per-pack tax on tobacco products in California.
In 1997, Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which supports people affected by cancer. The foundation raises awareness of cancer and has raised more than $325 million from the sale of yellow Livestrong bracelets. During his first retirement beginning after the 2005 season, he also maintained other interests. He was the pace car driver of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for the 2006 Indianapolis 500. In 2007, Armstrong with Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning, and Cal Ripken, Jr. founded Athletes for Hope, a charity that helps professional athletes become involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.
In August 2009, Armstrong headlined the inaugural charity ride “Pelotonia” in Columbus, Ohio, riding over 100 miles on Saturday with the large group of cyclists. He addressed the riders the Friday evening before the two-day ride and helped the ride raise millions for cancer research. Armstrong ran the 2006 New York City Marathon with two friends. He assembled a pace team of Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Hicham El Guerrouj to help him reach 3 hours. He finished in 2h 59 m 36s, in 856th place. He said the race was extremely difficult compared to the Tour de France. The NYC Marathon had a dedicated camera on Armstrong throughout the event which, according to Armstrong, pushed him to continue through points in which he would have normally “stopped and stretched”. He also helped raise $600,000 for his LiveStrong campaign during the run. Armstrong ran the 2007 NYC Marathon in 2h 46 m 43s, finishing 232nd. On April 21, 2008, he ran the Boston Marathon in 2h 50 m 58s, finishing in the top 500.
Armstrong made a return to triathlon in 2011 by competing in the off-road XTERRA Triathlon race series. He took 4th at the XTERRA USA Nationals in Ogden, Utah and then competed in the XTERRA World Championships in Maui. At the Championships Armstrong led for a time before crashing out on the bike and finishing in 23rd place. The following year, in 2012, Armstrong began pursuing qualification into the 2012 Ironman World Championship. He made his return to long distance triathlon in the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Panama race, on February 12, 2012. He finished with a time of 3:50:55, second overall to Bevan Docherty. He also entered half-Ironman distance races in Texas (7th) and St. Croix (3rd) before breaking through with victories at Ironman 70.3 Florida and Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. He was scheduled to next participate in Ironman France on June 24. However, the June suspension by USADA and eventual ban by WADA prohibited Armstrong from further racing Ironman branded events due to World Triathlon Corporation anti-doping policies.
In July 2011 and July 2013, Armstrong participated in the non-competitive Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
Business and investments
Armstrong owns a coffee shop in downtown Austin, Texas called “Juan Pelota Cafe”. The name is a joking reference to his testicular cancer, with the name “Juan” being considered by some a homophone for “one” and “Pelota” being the Spanish word for “ball”. Out of the same building, Armstrong owns and operates a bike shop named “Mellow Johnny’s”, after another nickname of his derived from the Tour term “maillot jaune”, which is French for “yellow jersey”.
In 2001, Armstrong provided funding to launch Wonders & Worries, a non-profit organization in Austin, Texas that provides counseling and support for children who have a parent with a serious or life-threatening disease.
A line of cycling clothing from Nike, 10//2, was named after the date (October 2, 1996) that Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
In 2008 Armstrong bought several million dollars of stock in the American bicycle component manufacturer SRAM Corporation, and has served as their technical advisor. SRAM bought those shares back from him in preparation for a public offering. Armstrong owns a small share of Trek Bicycle Corporation.
- United States Olympic Committee (USOC) SportsMan of the Year (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003)
- Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)
- World’s Most Outstanding Athlete Award, Jesse Owens International Trophy (2000)
- Reuters Sportsman of the Year (2003)
- Prince of Asturias Award in Sports (2000)
- Sports Ethics Fellows by the Institute for International Sport (2003)
- Vélo d’Or Award by Velo magazine in France (1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004)
- Mendrisio d’Or Award in Switzerland (1999)
- Premio Coppi-Bici d’Oro Trophy by the Fausto Coppi foundation in conjunction with La Gazzetta dello Sport (1999, 2000)
- Marca Legend Award by Marca, a Spanish sports daily in Madrid (2004)
- ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
- ESPY Award for GMC Professional Grade Play Award (2005)
- ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete (2000)
- ESPN/Intersport’s ARETE Award for Courage in Sport (Professional Division) (1999)
- ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year (1999)
- Favorite Athlete award at Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards (2006)
- Presidential Delegation to the XIX Olympic Winter Games (2002)
- Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year (2002)
- VeloNews magazine’s International Cyclist of the Year (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004)
- VeloNews magazine’s North American Male Cyclist of the Year (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005)
- William Hill Sports Book of the Year: It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (2000)
- Triathlon magazine’s Rookie of the Year (1988)
- Pace car driver for the Indianapolis 500 (2006)
- An asteroid, 1994 JE9 was named 12373 Lancearmstrong in honor of him.
- Six-mile Lance Armstrong Bikeway through downtown Austin, Texas, built by the city of Austin at a cost of $3.2 million.
- Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award presented by the United States Sports Academy (1999)
- Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards (2001)
- BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year Award (2003)
- Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Tufts University (2006)
- Key to the city of Adelaide, South Australia (2012)
- Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year Winner (2003)
- Laureus World Sports Award for Comeback of the Year Winner (2000)
- Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year Nominated (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006)
- Laureus World Sports Award for Comeback of the Year Nominated (2010)
- Grand Prix Serge-Kampf de l’Académie des sports (France, 2004)
- Légion d’honneur (France, 2005)