TODAY   |  August 24, 2012

Armstrong to be stripped of Tour titles

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will be stripped of his titles and banned from cycling after announcing he will no longer fight the charges brought by the U.S. anti-doping agency. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> and good morning. welcome to "today" on friday morning. i'm matt lauer .

>> i'm savannah guthrie . breaking news this morning. fair to stay it's a stunner in the sports world . lance armstrong to be stripped of every one of his seven tour de france titles. while he's dropping his challenges to those charges, he's strongly insisting today he is innocent.

>> in a powerfully worded statement armstrong says enough is enough and he refuses to participate in a process that, in his words, is unsided and unfair. we're going to get right to this story now. nbc's anne thompson joins us with details. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. what's really stunning about this, lance armstrong is a fighter, the tour de france and testicular cancer . now, while he's decided he's no longer going to fight these charges, he's also not admitted to doping and he refuses to participate in a process that he says in unfair. never a quittere lance armstrong was a historic seven-time tour de france winner, cancer survivor . now he says he's through fighting a battling that dogged him for years, charged with using banned substances . in a statement on thursday armstrong says, there comes a point in a man's life where he has to say enough is enough. for me the time is now. if i thought for a moment that by participate in usada's process i could confront these allegations in a fair setting and, won and for all, put these charges to rest, i would jump at the chance but i refuse to participate in a prooz that's unfair. the u.s. doping agency said --

>> he will be immediately disqualified from all events he participated in from august 1st , 1998 , forward to the present and he will be permanently banned from any future competition. it's a powerful reminder to athletes that doping never pays.

>> reporter: according to the anti- doping , armstrong stripped of seven tour de france 's titles, olympic bronze and all the awards and money he won since 1998 . a two-year federal investigation was closed last year without any charges. but months later the anti- doping agency said it had evidence that armstrong used banned substances including e-mails from former teammates lloyd landes, who was stripped of his 2006 tour victory and later admitted to doping . in an interview with ann curry in 2006 , she asked armstrong if he had ever used performance enhancing drugs in any of his previous races?

>> never.

>> not once.

>> not once.

>> the 40-year-old armstrong , who retired from competing last year, lost the court battle on monday that challenged the u.s. anti- doping agency's authority. in his statement, armstrong said, i know who won those seven tours, my teammates know who won those seven tours, and everyone i competed against knows who won those seven tours. but it may not be over yet. the international cycling union could appeal the ruling. if it does, the case goes to the sport of arbitration for sport in switzerland and that could be months away.

>> the saga is not over.

>> not by a long short.

>> appreciate it.