The Long, Ugly Downfall Of Lance Armstrong

lance armstrong tour de france 2009

Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Nike terminated Lance Armstrong’s contract in the face of “insurmountable evidence” that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.Even though it seems like Armstrong’s world has only recently come crashing down, the fact is he has been fighting cheating allegations since his first Tour de France in 1999.

It has been a long, long downfall.

We took a look back at this past decade or so to see trajectory of Armstrong’s fall, from the failed drug test in 1999 to Nike’s termination last week.

In the early '90s he wasn't yet a contender for the Tour de France title. He won a stage in 1995, but that was as far as his success went

In 1996, he was diagnosed with late-stage testicular cancer that had spread all over his body

Source: Cycling News

He was only given a 40% chance to live

Source: People

Miraculously, he survived. And a little over two years later, he won the 1999 Tour de France

The win, coupled with his inspirational story, made him an instant celebrity

He parlayed that fame and universal goodwill into his cancer-fighting charity, Livestrong. The foundation has raised $480 million to date

All the while he continued to dominate, winning seven-straight Tours de France before retiring 2005. But it was about to come crashing down

Throughout his seven-year reign, there were whispers about Lance cheating

During his 1999 Tour win, he tested positive for corticosteroids. But it was dropped because he had a doctor's note for saddles sores

Source: NYT

In 2005, the French magazine l'Equipe claimed that Armstrong's blood tests from 1999 retroactively tested positive for EPO

The allegations came to a fever pitch when Armstrong's former teammates came out against him. In 2010, Floyd Landis accused Lance of cheating with him

Fellow rider Tyler Hamilton came out as well. And the writing was seemingly on the wall

In August, Armstrong announced that he would not defend himself against USADA charges that he doped. As a result, the USADA recommended that he be stripped of all titles

In October, the USADA released a mountain of evidence against Armstrong, claiming he was the driving force behind the most sophisticated doping conspiracy ever

Among the allegations: Lance's tested positive for EPO in 2001, but had it covered up

The witnesses in the report also alleged that he threatened his teammates into using more intense doping programs

Overall, the USADA presented a case that Armstrong was doping with a variety of drugs and methods during all of his Tour de France wins

Nike terminated its contract with Armstrong. He joined Mike Vick as the only athletes to ever get fired by Nike

More sadly for Lance, he had to step down as chairman of the beloved Livestrong charity that he founded

Today, seven years after winning his seventh Tour, he has lost his main sponsor, his charity, and (likely) all his cycling records

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