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American anti-doping officials have stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and imposed a lifelong ban from cycling — the sport that made him an American hero and a sports icon, it was revealed on Thursday.

The announcement from the US Anti-Doping Agency effectively destroys his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists in history and rubs a black smudge on a story that inspired millions of fans, drawn to his story of returning to glory after recovering from horrific cancer.

The USADA acted within an hour of Armstrong’s announcement that he would stop fighting charges that he used blood doping to illegitimately enhance his performance.

Despite the action, Armstrong maintains his innocence and called the USADA’s case a ‘witch hunt.’

The rest, Mail Online here, with pix and Lance statement