CHARLOTTE — Cyclist Lance Armstrong is banned from life and his career vacated by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
The agency wants Armstrong stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong continues to deny he ever took performance enhancing drugs, but said Thursday he will no longer appeal the USADA's investigation that he called a “witch hunt.”
Spencer Lueders grew up near Armstrong in Texas, and said he has known of the cyclist since they were teenagers.
"He was winning all of these races in triathlons and other swimming and running and all this. So he was always a phenomenal athlete so I knew who he was even as kids. Then I followed him as an athlete through his cycling career, into starting the foundation, his cancer journey, all that,” said Lueders.
Lueders started the 24 Hours of Booty cycling event in Charlotte 12 years ago as a way to benefit Livestrong as well as local cancer research.
"He's an amazing athlete, but his work as a cancer advocate, I think, surpasses his work as an athlete," said Lueders.
After years of fighting off accusations of doping, Armstrong stopped any further challenges by the US Anti-Doping Agency that he took performance enhancing drugs between 1999 and 2005 that led to his seven Tour de France victories.
"I don't' think it was unexpected at this point, it's just gone on for so long that everybody has a breaking point, when you want to move on to bigger things. I think Lance has decided his bigger thing is Livestrong and what it does for the world going forward,” said avid cyclist and Armstrong fan Marc Gustafson.
Despite being stripped of his titles and banned from the sport, cyclists say they will remember Armstrong for his biggest accomplishment.
“His decision and his courage to tell his story back in 1996 and to start the foundation right after that has generated at least from Livestrong over $500 million in the fight against cancer. So I look at that as something that he can be proud of, something that I'm proud of him for, and we're going to continue to support Livestrong,” said Lueders.
In addition to losing the seven Tour de France titles, Armstrong could also lose accomplishments such as awards and cash earnings, and possibly the bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics.