The summer of 2007 I bought my first road bike. Also that summer, for the first time, I was glued to the television coverage of the Tour de France. The professional cyclists made the sport look so easy and elegant as they rode through France. In 2009, Lance Armstrong returned to cycling. It was amazing to watch a cancer survivor come back to a physically grueling sport and race, older than his closest competitors, and win third place. Armstrong won the Tour de France for seven straight years, from 1999 until 2005, after being treated for cancer. Armstrong is an amazing athlete.

            Last month, though, Armstrong signed his own death warrant within professional sports. Armstrong has been accused of doping over the years, but in over 200 tests had never tested positive for drugs. Recently, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decided to pursue charges of doping against Lance Armstrong up to approximately15 years after it alleges he was using the drugs. There are no criminal charges, but these charges by the USADA carry a stiff penalty: stripping Armstrong of all titles and wins and banning him from professional sports for his lifetime.

            The USADA’s charges raised serious questions about jurisdiction and even statutes of limitations. Initially, it was difficult to understand how the USADA would have the authority to strip Armstrong of his international titles because those titles were won under the UCI, the International Union of Cyclists. Another nail in Armstrong’s jurisdictional argument was pounded into the coffin earlier this week as the UCI decided to stand behind USADA’s decision to strip Armstrong of all titles.

            As for statutes of limitation, the USADA’s charges go beyond the statute of limitations applicable to Armstrong’s situation. USADA has accused Armstrong of breaking the rules of competition in the World Anti-Doping Code. The statute of limitations applicable to Armstrong under the Code is eight years, but he is being stripped of all titles earned since August 1, 1998. Even though this strips him of titles well outside of the statute of limitations, Armstrong has decided not to fight any aspect of USADA’s decision. The World Anti-Doping Agency, responsible for the Code, has the ability to appeal USADA’s charges, and may in fact do so due to the statute of limitations question. The World Anti-Doping Agency must make its decision by October 31, 2012.