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What's behind the Armstrong headlines

CNN has gathered plenty of news and opinion on the prospect that famed seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong may lose his titles after ending his fight against charges of illegal doping.

This post corrals much of it so you can quickly see what's out there.

The issue

Armstrong announced Thursday that he would no longer fight the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's charges, not admitting wrongdoing but rather saying he's tired of having to prove his professed innocence for years without any lasting success.

The USADA responded Friday that it was giving him a lifetime ban and disqualifying him from all events since August 1998. Still at issue is whether the USADA has the power to strip him of his victories; more about that in a bit.

A thorough look at what the USADA accuses him of can be found here. In a nutshell, though, the USADA in June charged Armstrong and several members of his former U.S. Postal Service team with illegal doping and trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs.

The USADA responsible for monitoring drug testing and enforcing the World Anti-Doping Agency code for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports alleges that Armstrong, who retired in 2011, took steroids and blood-doped during his career and says testimony from ex-teammates support the charges. This includes Floyd Landis, a former USPS rider who claimed that he saw Armstrong using blood transfusions to increase the level of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in his system as well as taking the blood-boosting drug EPO.

Armstrong has consistently denied allegations of illegal doping.

Armstrong sued the USADA to stop the investigation, arguing that it did not have the right to prosecute him. But a federal judge dismissed Armstrong's lawsuit Monday after ruling that the court did not have jurisdiction.

There's a question of whether Armstrong can be stripped of his wins, including his Tour de France titles, without other international agencies getting involved. The International Cycling Union (UCI), the cycling's world governing body, claims that it, not the USADA, has jurisdiction. That position has been recently backed by USA Cycling, the official organization recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The World Anti-Doping Agency's president, John Fahey, told Australia's ABC Radio that the U.S. organization "has the right to impose penalties" including a retrospective lifetime ban but that it is essentially up to the cycling union to strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles.

The International Cycling Union "usually strip athletes or sporting federations for both leagues of titles in such circumstances. But that's now a matter, as I understand it, for UCI," Fahey told ABC Radio.

The immediate players' statements

Friday's statement from the USADA, which said it was giving Armstrong a lifetime ban.

A statement from the International Cycling Union, which has challenged the USADA's claim of jurisdiction.

– Thursday's statement from Armstrong, who says he's tired of "dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven (Tours de France) since 1999" and that there is "zero physical evidence to support" the USADA's claims.

Friday's statement from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The U.S. Postal Service noted that it hasn't sponsored a pro cycling team since 2004. "We have no additional comment," USPS representative Mark Saunders said.

Reaction, opinion pieces and background

Nike and Anheuser-Busch say Armstrong will stay on as an endorser, CNN Money reports.

"Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation," Nike's statement said.

Nike was referring to Armstrong's foundation to help cancer patients (Armstrong himself is a testicular cancer survivor), known for its LiveStrong yellow wristbands. That work is one of the factors that apparently makes him attractive to advertisers despite the scandal, CNNMoney reports.

Lance Armstrong Foundation Vice Chairman Jeffrey Garvey said he supported Armstrong's decision.

"Faced with a biased process whose outcome seems predetermined, Lance chose to put his family and his foundation first, and we support his decision.

“Lance’s legacy in the cancer community is unparalleled. Lance could have left cancer behind him and never looked back. Instead, before ever winning the Tour de France, he established a foundation that today has served 2.5 million cancer survivors with its free patient navigation services. … Lance has unfailingly stood by the cancer community and we will always stand by him."

– SI.com's Michael Rosenberg writes that Armstrong is ending his fight because he's banking on a belief that the public doesn't care whether he used drugs. And if Armstrong does think that, Rosenberg thinks, he would be correct.

– A few select tweets on the matter:

From ESPN "First Take" commentator Skip Bayless:

Lance was about to face a parade of witnesses testifying against him for USADA. Chose to give up now, let idolators believe he was clean.


Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) August 24, 2012

From Donald Trump:

.@lancearmstrong should immediately reconsider or his legacy is ruined.


Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2012

From 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button:

Guilty or not the worst part is it hurts the sport of cycling.. @lancearmstrong


Jenson Button (@JensonButton) August 24, 2012

From Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl:

Lance Armstrong tough day! Know you are a CHAMPION.Proud to be a partner with you and will stand proud with you any day of my life.


George Karl (@CoachKarl22) August 24, 2012

Back in June, when the USADA charged Armstrong, SI.com columnist Jeff Pearlman argued that Armstrong's position of innocence was unbelievable and that fans shouldn't forgive him.

SI.com: Behind the scenes with Armstrong as he trained in 2009 for return to racing

SI.com, January 2011, "The Case Against Lance Armstrong": SI.com examined old and recent allegations that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during his Tour de France wins.

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