Cycling legend Lance Armstrong remained cool for the cameras at a charity event in Austin Texas on Sunday, not betraying any particular concern about the immense doping scandal that surrounds him.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency has already unilaterally stripped him of his titles and banned him from racing for life, for his part in what it called the most sophisticated doping programme that sport has ever seen.
Armstrong has been one of the most successful cyclists of all time, surviving testicular cancer at age 28 he went on to win the Tour de France a record seven times between 1999 and 2005.
He has always denied allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, but now, aged 41, he says he does not have the stomach to go fight the claims any more.
Armstrong’s net worth has been estimated at around $125 million (96 million euros). According to Forbes magazine, he earns more than $10 million a year in speaking fees and endorsement deals.
Corporate sponsors including Nike, Trek and Budweiser have already cut ties with the disgraced sporting hero.
Rumours began to circulate in 2005, today the USADA report leaves little room for doubt, including as it does eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence.
Eleven of Armstrong’s former team-mates have spoken up, but Armstrong has refused to speak out. He now stands accused of organising the doping ring, trafficking drugs and coercing others into doping.
Team doctors Michele Ferrari and Garcia del Moral have also received lifetime bans for their part in the conspiracy, the report said.
Armstrong is now retired and in the wake of the revelations has stepped down from his charity Livestrong.
The evidence is said to show prolonged use of EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids, human growth hormone and masking agents.
Armstrong’s lawyer Tim Herman has denounced the report as a “one-sided hacket job” and reiterated that Armstrong passed more than 500 doping tests during his career.
Cycling legend Lance Armstrong once dreamed of entering the annuals of history for his sporting achievements. Now, he is likely to do so – but only for his spectacular fall from grace.
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