WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Armonk bike shop owner Skip Beitzel heard the news with sadness Friday morning that racing legend Lance Armstrong would be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
“I was very sorry to hear that this morning on the news,” said Beitzel, owner of Hickory and Tweed bicycle and ski shop in Armonk. “I’m sorry for Lance and I’m sorry for the bike industry. It’s sad.”
Following Armstrong's decision to give up his challenge to doping allegations, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced Thursday it was not only taking away the cyclist's titles but also banning him from cycling for life.
Armstrong said he was tired of fighting the charges.
The International Cycling Union said Friday it would wait to hear the USADA’s reasons for stripping the titles before commenting.
Beitzel said the Armstrong announcements are just more bad news for cycling, which has a history of doping problems. Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France but was stripped of that title in 2010 when he admitted to doping from 2002 to 2006. Beitzel said the history of drug use in the sport is a problem cycling must take care of now.
But his opinion of Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer that metastasized to his brain and lungs, has not changed.
“It doesn’t change my opinion, because I don’t know. There are two sides to every story. I really haven’t heard his full side of the story yet,” Beitzel said. “So it doesn’t change my opinion of Lance. I feel sorry for him, but I haven’t really heard his side yet in his defense except him saying ‘I am not guilty.’ ”
Irene Marcos, owner of Bicycle World in Mt. Kisco, said she does not have enough evidence to change her mind about Armstrong.
“There’s so much that hasn’t been decided yet. I’m not willing to admit that because he pulled out it means that he’s guilty,” Marcos said.
Armstrong founded his Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 and inspired many with the now-famous yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands. With all the good Armstrong has done, some, including Marcos, are not ready to give up on him just yet.
“I think Lance has done a lot of great things for American cycling,” Marcos said. “I’m not willing to change my opinion until something is proven.