The Definitive Timeline Of Lance Armstrong’s Apparently Doped-Up Career

The rise and fall of America’s greatest cyclist.

1. 1992: Armstrong begins his career as professional cyclist after a successful stint as a triathlete.

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Armstrong was a prodigious triathlete as a teenager, and won the national sprint-course triathlon in 1989 and 1990.

2. 1993: Armstrong wins the UCI Road World Championship and takes part in his first Tour de France.

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1993 was the year Armstrong really splashed onto the cycling scene. He beat cycling legend Miguel Indurain to capture the ‘93 World Championship in Oslo, and also won his first Tour de France individual stage. He would struggle to maintain the same level of success over the next few years, however, as he worked to reform his bulky triathlete’s body into one more suitable to cycling. In his book It’s Not About the Bike, Armstrong would actually say the ravaging effects of his cancer helped him become an elite cyclist, as he needed to completely rebuild his body. Within a year, Armstrong would begin working with Dr. Michele Ferrari, who gave him advice about doping and treated him for over a decade, according to the 2012 United States Anti-Doping Agency report.

3. August 1996: Armstrong rides in the Atlanta Olympics, but fails to medal.

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4. October 1996: Two months after the Olympics, Armstrong is diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer.

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Armstrong was given less than a 50 percent chance of living, but underwent sugery and chemotherapy, and had one of his testicles removed. In February of 1997, Armstrong was cancer free.

5. 1997: Still recovering from cancer, Armstrong establishes the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which would later become the Livestrong Foundation.

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6. 1998: Armstrong begins his comeback to cycling with the US Postal team and finishes fourth in the Vuelta a España, the grand tour of Spain.

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7. 1999: Armstrong wins his first Tour de France and begins to face charges of doping.

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In 1999, French newspaper Le Monde reported that routine tests conducted on Armstrong by cycling authorities had detected trace amounts of corticosteroids, though not in concentrations higher than the allowed limit. He explained that he had been using a legal salve to treat saddle sores, a common problem among cyclists. Armstrong, at the time, asserted that “this is not a doping story,” according to the Cycling News archive.

8. 2000: Armstrong wins a second Tour, French media levels new doping charges.

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Armstrong won the 2000 Tour de France by six minutes over Jan Ullrich, his toughest competitor. After the Tour, however, an investigation into the potential use of Actovegin, a substance used to improve blood circulation, hovered over the USPS team for years. USPS denied the claims, but acknowledging he felt antagonized by the press, Armstrong said there may be “some validity” to claims he would skip the 2001 Tour over doping allegations.

9. 2001: Armstrong wins a third Tour with Lance-mania in full swing.

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The Actovegin case continued to progress slowly, with a French judge asking the Union Cycliste Internationale to hand over samples from USPS riders.

10. Despite the cloud of uncertainty, Armstrong was regarded as a hero in the United States.

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President George W. Bush inspects one of Armstrong’s helmets during a 2001 visit.

11. 2002: Armstrong continues to dominate.

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After he won his fourth Tour, Sports Illustrated named Armstrong the 2002 Sportsman of the Year. French authorities closed the Actovegin case due to a lack of evidence two years after it had been opened. The 2012 USADA report documents widespread use of Actovegin by USPS at the time, but team members had managed to evade detection and scuttle the original French investigation.

12. 2003: Armstrong captures his closest Tour victory.

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2003 was a year in which the drama of the race eclipsed the doping narratives swarming the sport, and Armstrong won his fifth consecutive tour by just 61 seconds over Jan Ullrich. At one point during stage 15, an overeager fan’s bag caught Armstrong’s handlebar and caused the leader to crash, but the other riders in contention, including Ullrich, waited for Armstrong to rejoin the race rather than prey on his misfortune. Armstrong would recover to win the stage, and eventually, the Tour.

13. 2004: Armstrong sets the record for consecutive Tour wins.

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Armstrong cruised to a sixth consecutive Tour victory, but new allegations of doping hounded him. Armstrong fought to defend his image after Pierre Ballester and David Walsh published a 2004 book titled “L.A. Confidentiel – Les secrets de Lance Armstrong.” In the book, numerous accomplices of Armstrong allege he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. When The Sunday Times published excepts of the book, Armstrong sued for libel and a settlement was reached. Amid recent developments, The Sunday Times filed suit against Armstrong in December 2012, looking to recoup the original settlement.

14. 2005: Armstrong wins his seventh Tour and retires from cycling.

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Armstrong won the penultimate stage of the 2005 Tour de France, an individual time trial, to secure his seventh victory. He would retire from cycling on the last day of the Tour, but a firestorm of doping allegations would follow. A French newspaper alleged that frozen urine samples from his 1999 Tour victory had tested positive for EPO. On his website, Armstrong lamented that the “witch hunt continues,” and continued to deny reports of doping. (Later, the USADA report cited eyewitnesses confirming that Armstrong used EPO “every third or fourth day” in 1999.)

15. 2006: Armstrong turns to marathon running, but can’t escape doping allegations.

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Early in 2006, two USPS riders admitted to the New York Times that they used performance-enhancing drugs to prepare for the 1999 Tour de France. Later that year, former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond told a French newspaper that Armstrong threatened him after LeMond criticized his relationship with Dr. Michele Ferrari, who aided Armstrong in doping.

Having retired from cycling, Armstrong ran in the New York City Marathon and raised money for the Livestrong Foundation. He also ran in the 2007 New York City Marathon and the 2008 Boston Marathon.

16. 2009: Armstrong returns to cycling.

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In late 2008 Armstrong announced his intention to ride in the 2009 Tour de France, and he made his return with team Astana. He finished third in the Tour, five minutes behind teammate Alberto Contador.

17. 2010: Armstrong takes one last stab at winning.

In 2010 Armstrong formed team Radioshack for what would be his last Tour de France. He was not a factor in the individual title hunt, but team Radioshack won the team classification by more than nine minutes. Months before the Tour, however, former champion Floyd Landis confessed to the UCI that he doped throughout his career, and alleged that Armstrong did as well. In response, Armstrong said ““With regards to the specific allegations, the specific claims, they’re not even worth getting into. I’m not going to waste my time or your time,” according to the Telegraph. Federal prosecutors began an investigation into Armstrong’s denial of doping, though the investigation would close with no charges filed in 2012.

18. 2011: Former teammate Tyler Hamilton accuses Armstrong of doping on an episode of “60 Minutes.”

19. 2012: USADA releases bombshell report, UCI strips Armstrong of all cycling titles.

In June, the USADA charged Armstrong with doping and perpetuating a culture of doping among his teammates. Armstrong filed a lawsuit to try and prevent the USADA from pursuing the case, but a judge ruled in favor of the USADA. In October, the USADA released a 164-page report detailing rampant doping by Armstrong as far back as 1998, and during every single Tour victory from 1999 to 2005. In response, the UCI banned Armstrong from cycling for life and stripped him of all titles won after August 1998.

20. 2013: Armstrong confesses to doping in interview with Oprah.

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Armstrong reportedly confessed to doping Monday in an extended interview with Oprah, which will air in two parts beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday. Oprah confirmed that Armstrong admitted to doping, and said that “I don’t think ‘emotional’ begins to describe the intensity or the difficulty he experienced in talking about some of these things.”

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