Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Lance Armstrong says won't fight doping charges of USADA

The International Cycling Union is expected to make an announcement of its stance on Friday. So far it had backed Armstrong's legal challenge to USADA's authority to strip his unparalleled seven Tour de France titles

Austin (Texas): The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) says it will strip Lance Armstrong of his unparalleled seven Tour de France titles after he declared that he would stop fighting the drug charges the organization had laid, reports PTI.


Yesterday's announcement by Armstrong that he would no longer contest the charges put at risk his legacy as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.


He insisted the decision was not an admission of doping but prompted by weariness with the prolonged legal dispute.


Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, said Armstrong would have a lifetime ban imposed today as well as having the Tour titles stripped. Armstrong asserted that USADA had no authority to take away his Tour titles.


The sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), was expected to make an announcement of its stance on Friday. So far it had backed Armstrong's legal challenge to USADA's authority.


Tygart said UCI was "bound to recognize our decision and impose it" as a signer of the World Anti-Doping Code. "They have no choice but to strip the titles under the code," he said.


World Anti-Doping Authority president John Fahey told The Associated Press today that he was confident USADA acted properly and "they now have the right to apply a penalty that will be recognized by all WADA code countries around the world."


Armstrong, who retired last year, declined to enter USADA's arbitration process -- his last option -- because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years.


He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof of his innocence during his extraordinary run of Tour titles stretching from1999-2005.


"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, "Enough is enough." For me, that time is now," Armstrong said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. He called the USADA investigation an "unconstitutional witch hunt."


Landis' emails to a USA Cycling official detailed allegations of a complex doping program on the team.


USADA also said it had 10 former Armstrong teammates ready to testify against him. Other than suggesting they include Landis and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom have admitted to doping offenses, the agency has refused to say who they are or specifically what they would say.


"There is zero physical evidence to support (the) outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of (doping) controls I have passed with flying colors," Armstrong said.


Armstrong sued USADA in Austin, where he lives, in an attempt to block the case and was supported by the UCI. A judge threw out the case on Monday, siding with USADA despite questioning the agency's pursuit of Armstrong in his retirement.


"USADA's conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives," such as politics or publicity, US District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.


Now the ultra-competitive Armstrong has done something virtually unthinkable for him: He has quit before a fight is over.


"Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities," Armstrong said.


Armstrong could have pressed his innocence in USADA's arbitration process, but the cyclist has said he believes most people have already made up their minds about whether he's a fraud or a persecuted hero.


It was a stunning move for an athlete who built his reputation on not only beating cancer, but forcing himself through grueling offseason workouts no one else could match, then crushing his rivals in the Alps and the Pyrenees.


Although he had already been crowned a world champion and won individual stages at the Tour de France, Armstrong was still relatively unknown in the U.S. until he won the epic race for the first time in 1999.


It was the ultimate comeback tale: When diagnosed with cancer, doctors had given him less than a 50 percent chance of survival before surgery and brutal cycles of chemotherapy saved his life.


Armstrong's riveting victories, his work for cancer awareness and his gossip-page romances with rocker Sheryl Crow, fashion designer Tory Burch and actress Kate Hudson made him a figure who transcended sports.


His dominance of the Tour de France elevated the sport's popularity in America to unprecedented levels.


His story and success helped sell millions of the "Livestrong" plastic yellow wrist bracelets, and enabled him to enlist lawmakers and global policymakers to promote cancer awareness and research.


His Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised nearly $500 million since its founding in 1997.


Created in 2000, USADA is recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States.


Its investigators joined US agents during the federal probe, and Tygart had dismissed Armstrong's lawsuit as an attempt at "concealing the truth."


He said the agency is motivated by one goal -- exposing cheaters in sport.


Others close to Armstrong were caught up in the charges: Johan Bruyneel, the coach of Armstrong's teams, and three members of the medical staff and a consultant were also charged.


Bruyneel is taking his case to arbitration, while two medical team staffers and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari didn't formally contest the charges and were issued lifetime ban by USADA. Ferrari later said he was innocent.


In a sport rife with cheaters, Armstrong has been under constant suspicion since the 1990s from those who refused to believe he was a clean rider winning cycling's premier event against a field of doped-up competition.


He had tense public disputes with USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, some former teammates and assistants and even Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France.


Through it all, Armstrong vigorously denied any and all hints, rumors and direct accusations he was cheating. He had the blazing personality, celebrity and personal wealth needed to fight back with legal and public relations battles to clear his name -- and he did, time after time.


Armstrong won his first Tour at a time when doping scandals had rocked the race.


He was leading the race when a trace amount of a banned anti-inflammatory corticosteroid was found in his urine; cycling officials said he was authorized to use a small amount of a cream to treat saddle sores.


After Armstrong's second victory in 2000, French judicial officials investigated his Postal Service team for drug use.


That investigation ended with no charges, but the allegations kept coming.


Armstrong was criticized for his relationship with Ferrari, who was banned by Italian authorities over doping charges in 2002.


Former personal and team assistants accused Armstrong of having steroids in an apartment in Spain and disposing of syringes that were used for injections.


In 2004, a Dallas-based promotions company initially refused to pay him a USD 5 million bonus for winning his sixth Tour de France because it wanted to investigate allegations raised by media in Europe.


Testimony in that case included former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy, saying Armstrong told doctors during his 1996 cancer treatments that he had taken a cornucopia of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.


Two books published in Europe, "LA Confidential" and "LA Official," also raised doping allegations and, in 2005, French magazine L'Equipe reported that retested urine samples from the 1999 Tour showed EPO use.


Armstrong fought every accusation with denials and, in some cases, lawsuits against the European media outlets that reported them.


But he showed signs that he was tiring of the never-ending questions. Armstrong retired (for the first time) in 2005 and almost immediately considered a comeback before deciding to stay on the sidelines, in part, because he didn't want to keep answering doping questions.


"I'm sick of this," Armstrong said in 2005. "Sitting here today, dealing with all this stuff again, knowing if I were to go back, there's no way I could get a fair shake -- on the roadside, in doping control, or the labs."


Three years later, Armstrong was 36 and itching to ride again. He came back to finish third in the 2009 Tour de France.


Armstrong raced in the Tour again in 2010, under the cloud of the federal criminal investigation. Early last year, he quit the sport for good, but made a brief return as a triathlete until the USADA investigation shut him down.


During his sworn testimony in the dispute over the $5 million bonus, Armstrong said he wouldn't take performance enhancing drugs because he had too much to lose.


"(The) faith of all the cancer survivors around the world. Everything I do off the bike would go away, too," Armstrong said then.


"And don't think for a second I don't understand that.


It's not about money for me. Everything. It's also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. So all of that would be erased."


SC dismisses plea against Chidambaram in 2G case

Dismissing a plea filed by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy , apex court said, criminal conspiracy cannot be inferred merely on the suspicion that there was a meeting for taking decision between the officials of DoT and two ministers--Raja and Chidambaram

New Delhi: In a huge relief to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea for making him a co-accused in the 2G spectrum case, saying there was no prima facie material against him of any criminal conspiracy or procuring of any pecuniary gain, reports PTI.
"No case is made out against P Chidambaram and the special leave petition (SLP) filed against the judgment of the special CBI court is not liable to be entertained.
Accordingly, the SLP is rejected," a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and KS Radhakrishnan said.
The petition was filed by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction for a probe against Chidambaram and for making him a co-accused along with former Telecom Minister A Raja.
Dismissing his plea, the bench said, criminal conspiracy cannot be inferred merely on the suspicion that there was a meeting for taking decision between the officials of department of telecom and two ministers--Raja and Chidambaram, who was then also Finance Minister.
The bench said there was "no prima facie material" that Chidambaram got any pecuniary benefit nor was there any material on record to prove that he, as the then Finance Minister, abused his official position.
The judges said that the poor management in allocation of spectrum cannot be said to be a product of criminal conspiracy.
This is the second time a judicial relief has come for Chidambaram after a Delhi court on 4th February this year had dismissed a plea of a co-accused in the 2G case.
Special CBI Judge OP Saini had held that Chidambaram had not indulged in any criminal conspiracy or derived any pecuniary advantage in the decisions taken with Raja.
Giving a clean chit to the finance minister in the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008, Saini had said Chidambaram was party to only two decisions--keeping spectrum prices at 2001 level and dilution of equity by two companies--which "are not per se criminal".


Refugees and a nation’s economy: A first hand opinion

A refugee reaches a point of no return which is the eventual catalyst. Those who opine on refugees must remember this

We are born of refugee stock—parents who came across the borders with not much more than their clothes on their back, often even without any documents. There are enough people we know who, even today, want only one thing from whichever now foreign country they escaped from—a copy of their college or school certificates. Most other material or sentimental ‘things’ are forgotten, though they do stay bottled up somewhere in the sub-conscious. In most cases, modern day India has been good for the refugees in 1947, and so the benefits far outweigh the losses, and that makes up.

So when the Mumbai riots on 11 August 2012 made the news, two events stood out, which seem to have finally broken that dam:
1) The open destruction of the soldier's memorial.
2) The rabid speeches by most of the Muslim speakers.

If just saying that makes this writer an agent of Hindutava, or anti-Muslim, then let me clarify before I go ahead—there is no major religion in this country, or even in the world, which I do not have in my immediate family, and pretty much every part of India is represented therein too. And even the Muslims in my circle of family and friends are ashamed of what people did in Mumbai on 11th August. The essence is that people know who is behind this. Muslims in India, like everybody else, are not a homogeneous entity that they can be taken for granted, whether they are domestic, refugees, or migrants.

Today, if you take the trouble to go for a walkabout in the hard-core Muslim back-streets of Jama Masjid, then the word is clear—we don't want any part of this destruction, we are Indians first, and we know that peaceful co-existence is the only way we are going to get ahead, too. Word is out—this was and is not the behaviour expected of refugees, or migrants from other parts of India, or anybody. Nor is it only anti-Maharashtra, which is a point that Raj Thackeray seems to miss in his otherwise fairly well-balanced speech he gave recently at Azad Maidan. An English translation of which can be found here: (http://gauravsabnis.blogspot.in/2012/08/translating-raj-thackeray-speech.html)

Having grown up in Maharashtra, I can understand what Maharashtrian pride or ‘garv’ means, and when in Maharashtra, am proud to be part of it too. My only submission to Raj Thakeray and others who understand Maharashtrian pride, is this—please make it part of Indian pride too. After all, after 1947, my father's regiment was the Maratha Light Infantry. The Indian pride was what the ‘Ganpats’ believed in, and still believe in. And this is what I learnt at their feet.

Maharashtra as a coastal state has had wave upon wave of refugees, migrants and immigrants landing up. This is nothing new. Have they adapted? Take a look at those who have. Putting aside later date migrants—such as Parsees, Sindhis and Punjabis—would people want to research where Saraswat Brahmins came from, for example? Sure everybody has faced hardships when they landed up. The modern media options enable vast coverage on the hardships faced by refugees flowing into India—whether it is Muslims in the East (Bangladesh and Myanmar), Hindus from the West (Pakistan), Tribal people from the North (Nepal), or Tamilians of all religions in the South (Sri Lanka). We don’t get to read much about refugees from the islands (such as Maldives and Chagos/BIOT) mainly because the numbers aren’t there and our media is still unable understand that flow.

But one thing is clear—it is understood that the motivation in all cases is economics and the quality of life, though of late, it seems that the economic aspect gets more importance, at least through the outpourings of a vast variety of perception builders from across mediums. As a first generation Indian of refugee, I find that the most difficult thing to comprehend is—how do those who opine on the subject get it so wrong? For a refugee, it is all about reaching a point of no return on quality of life or even basic survival, which is the eventual catalyst, attitude also being that economic situation in the future will resolve itself somehow?

When we were growing up soon after what we could call “Refugee era version 1.0” (Partition 1947), it was drilled into our heads that we had nothing to feel sorry about, and that we had one chance at quality education and freedom—to pole vault our way to success. At that time, we sought education, of any sort—basic government schools, schools run by religious bodies or specific communities, Central schools, or even the ‘public’ schools. I would think that most of us could not afford the expensive private boarding schools, where the non-refugee elite sent their children. And if you were taunted because your clothes weren’t new, or your cycle was a hand-me-down, or your books were “second-hand” or your school sweater/blazer weren’t of the correct sort, well hey, you didn’t bring those fights home. You resolved them. And you worked for better marks too.

We didn’t have a “native place” to go to on vacations, but we had relatives re-settled after 1947 in places as diverse such as Calcutta, Bombay, Ujjain, Cuttack, Delhi, Rohtak, Dhanbad, Muradnagar, Simla, Poona, Jabalpur and far-away Ootacumund (Ooty). This was in addition to holidays spent at other army “family stations”. By the time we had entered our teens, we, as refugees, typically travelled the length and breadth of the country while our non-refugee friends had often seldom been out of their home towns.

The big lesson we learnt as refugees—we merged with the environment, we lived with it and we shared the benefits. We did not try to super-impose whatever could have been considered “our way of life” which we had left behind. Simple—our parents and grandparents had left that “way of life” behind because it was not working out for them. Is it anybody’s case that the typical 1947 refugee did not have orthodox grandparents, who would have loved to continue their ways in the new environs, called India?

Sure, the non-refugees had more clothes and the ladies in their family had far more jewellery than we could ever aspire to own. Their family heirlooms and histories went back generations while our heritages were memories of lush wheat or paddy fields in stories told at night by grand-parents. But one thing that was drilled into us in every which was this—that you are in no way inferior to anybody just because you are refugees, and there is no room for self-pity either.

So, I had uncles and aunts who didn’t know a word of spoken English or Hindi and the women wore the purdah/ghunghat, when they arrived in India as youngsters in 1947. Their language of instruction in West Punjab being Urdu but they nevertheless went on to excel in their professions globally only by the sheer dint of repeated exhortations and support from amazing sources. One would work part-time in shops (a nuclear scientist in the US after graduating from IIT), bind books (a very senior person Indian Air Force and Indian Army), learn maths and English till late at night from a very helpful South Indian neighbour in Karol Bagh (reputed architect and city planner in the US). Of course, there were plenty of doctors, engineers and teachers—professions which helped refugees pole vault over society positioned barriers. This was across the board with others from the “Refugee Era 1.0”.

We were simply not allowed to feel sad or miserable. I still remember Jawaharlal Nehru speaking to the refugees, across the road from where I live, in Lajpat Nagar, when he spoke to the effect of—you are the future, you have to work hard to rebuild the country, and be happy while doing it. Especially when I see Afghan refugees of all sorts, re-settled at Lajpat Nagar, catching up on life without much ado and certainly without self-pity, I see the spirit of “Refugee Era 1.0” alive and kicking.

Why is it that for the rest, the submission of the media, mostly that the modern refugee needs pity and some sort of special status? Don’t we understand—the reason refugees are here is because they want to improve their quality of life and in some cases, want to be alive. They don’t want our pity; they just want access to the basics, and with just that as well as half a chance, will be able to re-build their lives, as good or even better than those who were relocated in 1947.

As an article for a magazine devoted to money and life, I submit—strong economies are built around repeated waves of fresh refugees, or migrants, and giving them the opportunity to claw their way up. By challenging the existing inertia levels they inject fresh energy into the system, through various means. Let them come to India, allow them come to Maharashtra, but move them out of the refugee camps, free board and lodging kind of ‘economic’ solutions, and not stop them from evolving upwards. Spread them over the country. This new blood and fresh energy. And most importantly, make it very clear to them, they need to adapt to the new environment and not expect that the environment change for them. If they liked their previous environment so much, then they can always go back.

After all, as refugee children from version 1.0, the Tarana- e-Hindi by Allama Iqbal was what we were taught to sing, and in its not so famous verse it also asks:
Ae Aab-e-Rood-e-Ganga! Woh Din Hain Yaad Tujh Ko?
Utra Tere Kinare Jab Karwan Humara

Oh, waters of the river Ganges! Do you remember those days?
Those days when our caravan halted on your bank?

(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love-writing.)




5 years ago

definitely a new + ve way to see the refugee problem and make it very clear to the refugees that "they need to adapt to the new environment and not expect that the environment change for them. If they liked their previous environment so much, then they can always go back"


Veeresh Malik

In Reply to TIHARwale 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, TIHARwale, and my point is simple - at some stage or the other, we are all of refugee stock, we have all merged with the environment - and we all like to think that now that we are in, we should close the door behind us.

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