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Lance Armstrong is a professional American cyclist and testicular cancer survivor who, in 2012, was stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won from 1999 to 2005 due to evidence of performance-enhancing drug use.
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Shortly after the release of the USADA findings, the International Cycling Union (cycling's governing body) supported the USADA's decision and officially stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories. The union also banned Armstrong from the sport for life. ICU president Pat McQuaid said in a statement that "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling."
In a strange turn of events, in January 2013,
during a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, beginning in the mid-1990s. During his interview with Winfrey, Armstrong stated that he took the hormones cortisone, testosterone and erythropoietin (also known as EPO), and conducted blood transfusions to boost his oxygen levels. "I am deeply flawed ... and I'm paying the price for it, and I think that's okay. I deserve this," Lance stated during the interview, adding that he took illegal drugs as a professional athlete due to a "ruthless desire to win ... the level that it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw."
Of the interview, Winfrey said in a statement, "He did not come clean in the manner I expected. It was surprising to me. I would say that, for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized by some of his answers. I felt he was thorough. He was serious. He certainly prepared himself for this moment. I would say he met the moment. At the end of it, we both were pretty exhausted."
Around the same time that the OWN interview was conducted, CBS reported that Armstrong was in talks with U.S. Justice Department officials about returning some of the nearly $35 million in sponsorship funding that the U.S. Postal Service paid Armstrong's cycling team.
In July 2013, Armstrong made headlines again when it was reported that he would be competing in The Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, an annual, statewide cycling race sponsored by the newspaper.
"I'm well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high-five, great," Armstrong stated shortly after the news broke, according to the Daily Mail. "If you want to shoot me the bird, that's OK too. I'm a big boy, and so I made the bed, I get to sleep in it."
Armstrong has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1990. In 1996, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer, now called LiveStrong, and the Lance Armstrong Junior Race Series to help promote cycling and racing among America's youth. He is the author of two best-selling autobiographies, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (2000) and Every Second Counts (2003). In 2006, he ran the New York City Marathon, raising $600,000 for his LiveStrong campaign. Armstrong stepped down from LiveStrong in October 2012 following the USADA report that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong married Kristin Richard, a public relations executive he met through his cancer foundation, in 1998. The couple had a son, Luke, in October 1999, using sperm frozen before Armstrong began chemotherapy.
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For some athletes, the risk of losing—or even being less than the best—is worse than the many consequences of doping in professional sports, and for decades, performance-enhancing drug controversies have made headlines around the world. Other athletes have garnered media attention, criminal charges and sporting suspensions for their recreational drug use. Biography.com examines some of the world's greatest athletes to ever fall from fame, whose names have been tarnished by drugs scandals, including Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Marion Jones, Andre Agassi, Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong.
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