Timeline of Lance Armstrong's Career and Eventual Downfall

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 21: Cyclist Lance Armstrong (L) addresses participants at The LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride as Doug Ulman (R), Livestrong President and CEO, looks on at Palmer Events Center on October 21, 2012 in Austin, Texas. More than 4,000 cyclists participated in the charity ride supporting cancer survivors. Armstrong has recently been accused of leading 'the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen' according to USADA officials. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Lance Armstrong started his cycling career as a promising young rider. He would then be diagnosed with testicular cancer, overcome the disease, win seven Tour de France titles and become one of the most inspirational athletes in the history of modern sports.

And just as quickly, he would completely fall from grace and be stripped of his titles amid overwhelming evidence that he not only doped, but also helped lead an elaborate doping ring with the U.S. Postal Service racing team.

Now the AP is reporting Armstrong has admitted to doping in his interview with Oprah Winfrey, set to air Thursday: 

BREAKING: AP Source: Lance Armstrong confesses to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

— The Associated Press (@AP) January 15, 2013

Below, you'll find the full timeline of Armstrong's career, marking the major events, landmarks and scandals that now define the past 20 years or so of his life.  



Armstrong becomes the U.S. Amateur Road national champion.



He competes in his first Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, where he finishes 14th in the men's road race. He then turns pro.



Armstrong wins the CoreStates United States Professional Championship—and a $1 million bonus for winning all three races in the Thrift Drug series—along with the 1993 World Road Championship in Oslo, Norway, and the USPRO championship. 

He also wins his first stage in the Tour de France, Stage 8.



Armstrong wins the Tour DuPont, considered the most important race in the United States, at just 23 years of age. He also wins the 1995 Clásica de San Sebastián and Stage 18 at the Tour de France.



This year would be one of great highs and desperate lows for Armstrong. He enters the year as the top-ranked cyclist in the world, wins his second Tour DuPont, wins the 1996 La Flèche Wallonne and competes at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, where he finishes sixth in the men's time trial and 12th in the men's road race.

However, in October of 1996 he announces that he has been diagnosed with testicular cancer, and the disease had already spread to his abdomen and lungs. He would have brain surgery later that month to remove two lesions, and would undergo a year of chemotherapy treatment.



Armstrong resumes his training. He founds the Lance Armstrong Foundation, later to be known as the Livestrong Foundation, to advocate for cancer research and support cancer survivors.



Armstrong wastes little time making noise in his comeback, winning his first event since being diagnosed with cancer, the Tour of Luxembourg. He also wins the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt and the Cascade Classic.



His reign of terror at the Tour de France begins, as he becomes just the second American to win the event. In all, he wins the race prologue and the eighth, ninth and 19th stages.



In 2000, Armstrong wins his second consecutive Tour de France. He also wins a bronze medal in the men's time trial at the Sydney Olympics and finishes 13th in the men's road race. His book chronicling his battle with cancer, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Lifeis published.



He wins his third consecutive Tour de France.



He wins his fourth consecutive Tour de France.



He wins his fifth consecutive Tour de France and joins Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the event's only five-time winners, becoming only the second man (Indurain) to win five in a row. Also, he publishes Every Second Counts.



Armstrong wins his sixth straight Tour de France, making him the most accomplished cyclist in the history of the event. Before the race, David Walsh and Pierre Ballester publish a book, L.A. Confidentiel, which accuses Armstrong of doping.

In May, Armstrong, Livestrong and Nike would join forces to create the now-famous yellow Livestrong wristbands to raise money for cancer research.



Armstrong wins an astonishing seventh straight Tour de France, and he promptly retires from the sport.

But the doping allegations that will follow Armstrong for the next seven years continue, starting with French newspaper L'Équipe that reports Armstrong used EPO, a performance enhancer, in 1999.

While suspicions had surfaced that Armstrong might be doping during his Tour de France reign, L'Équipe's report was one of the more publicized accounts.



Armstrong is cleared of any doping charges. 



Armstrong announces he will return to professional cycling and race in the 2009 Tour de France.



He indeed returns to racing and finishes 64th in his first race back, in Adelaide, Australia. He will go on to finish third in the Tour de France that year. Before the Tour, the AFLD (France's anti-doping agency) accuses Armstrong of not cooperating with a drug tester, but later drops the allegations.



Doping accusations and investigations continue. Floyd Landis admits to doping and accuses his teammates, including Armstrong, of doing the same. Federal authorities investigate Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service racing team for fraud and conspiracy.

Armstrong finishes 23rd in the Tour de France.



He officially retires for a second time.

Meanwhile, momentum continues to build as Armstrong is repeatedly accused of doping while a federal grand jury inquiry into whether or not Armstrong led a doping ring on the U.S. Postal Service racing team is conducted.

In a Sports Illustrated article, former teammate Stephen Swart notes that Armstrong "was the instigator" and that "it was his words that pushed us toward doing [EPO in 1995]."

Meanwhile, another former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, tells 60 Minutes that he saw Armstrong inject EPO.



Armstrong wins one major battle but loses the most costly one of his professional career.

In February, federal prosecutors drop their two-year investigation into Armstrong without charging him. However, in June, the United States Anti-Doping Agency formally charges Armstrong with doping and trafficking performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong would have two lawsuits thrown out in court and would eventually give up the fight, declining to appeal USADA's findings.

In October, USADA would send its over 1,000 pages of evidence to the International Cycling Union (UCI), which would uphold USADA's sanctions, thereby stripping Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins and imposing a lifetime ban against the cyclist. 

In all, Armstrong would lose sponsorships with Nike, Anheuser-Busch and Oakley and Trek, among others. He formally stepped down from the board of directors at Livestrong, the charity he founded.

And now, he is expected to confess that he doped in some manner during an interview with Oprah Winfrey at 9 p.m. ET on OWN, Thursday evening, Jan. 17. 


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