Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and banned from the tournament for life, the International Cycling Union announced Monday, October 22. Pictured, Armstrong addresses participants at The Livestrong Challenge Ride on Sunday. He stepped down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer charity on Wednesday, October 17.
Armstrong leads his teammates during the final stage of the 1999 Tour de France.
Armstrong, 17, competes in the Jeep Triathlon Grand Prix in 1988. He became a professional triathlete at age 16 and joined the U.S. National Cycling Team two years later.
In 1995, Armstrong wins the 18th stage of the Tour de France. He finished 36th overall and finished the race for the first time that year.
Armstrong rides for charity in May 1998 at the Ikon Ride for the Roses to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He established the foundation to benefit cancer research after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. After treatment, he was declared cancer-free in February 1997.
Armstrong takes his honor lap on the Champs-Élysées in Paris after winning the Tour de France for the first time in 1999.
After winning the 2000 Tour de France, Armstrong holds his son Luke on his shoulders.
Armstrong rides during the 18th stage of the 2001 Tour de France. He won the tour that year for the third consecutive time.
Armstrong celebrates winning the 10th stage of the Tour de France in 2001.
After winning the 2001 Tour de France, Armstrong presents President George W. Bush with a U.S. Postal Service yellow jersey and a replica of the bike he used to win the race.
Armstrong celebrates on the podium after winning the Tour de France by 61 seconds in 2003. It was his fifth consecutive win.
Jay Leno interviews Armstrong on "The Tonight Show" in 2003.
After his six consecutive Tour de France win in 2004, Armstrong attends a celebration in his honor in front of the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
Armstrong arrives at the 2005 American Music Awards in Los Angeles with his then-fiancee Sheryl Crow. The couple never made it down the aisle, splitting up the following year.
Armstrong holds up a paper displaying the number seven at the start of the Tour de France in 2005. He went on to win his seventh consecutive victory.
As a cancer survivor, Armstrong testifies during a Senate hearing in 2008 on Capitol Hill. The hearing focused on finding a cure for cancer in the 21st century.
In 2009, Armstrong suffers a broken collarbone after falling during a race in Spain along with more than a dozen other riders.
Young Armstrong fans write messages on the ground using yellow chalk ahead of the 2009 Tour de France. He came in third place that year.
Armstrong launches the three-day Livestrong Global Cancer Summit in 2009 in Dublin, Ireland. The event was organized by his foundation.
In May 2010, Armstrong crashes during the Amgen Tour of California and is taken to the hospital. That same day, he denied allegations of doping made by former teammate Floyd Landis.
Ahead of what he said would be his last Tour de France, Armstrong gears up for the start of the race in 2010.
Lance Armstrong looks back as he rides in a breakaway during the 2010 Tour de France.
Armstrong finishes 23rd in the 2010 Tour de France. He announced his retirement from the world of professional cycling in February 2011. He said he wants to devote more time to his family and the fight against cancer.
Armstrong's son Luke; twin daughters, Isabelle and Grace; and 1-year-old son, Max, stand outside the Radioshack team bus on a rest day during the 2010 Tour de France.
The frame of Armstrong's bike is engraved with the names of his four children at the time and the Spanish word for five, "cinco." His fifth child, Olivia, was born in October 2010.
In February 2012, Armstrong competes in the 70.3 Ironman Triathlon in Panama City. He went on to claim two Half Ironman triathlon titles by June. He got back into the sport after retiring from professional cycling.
NEW: Today's riders shouldn't be tarnished by "Armstrong era," International Cycling Union says
NEW: The union's president deflects suggestion his group looked the other way
Lance Armstrong is banned from the sport
Armstrong has long maintained his innocence
Editor's note:Share your Lance Armstrong stories, videos and photos with the world on CNN iReport. (CNN) -- Lance Armstrong is losing the seven cycling titles that made him a legend.
The International Cycling Union announced Monday that Armstrong is being stripped of his Tour de France titles.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," said the union's president, Pat McQuaid, announcing that Armstrong is banned from the sport.
The decision follows this month's finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that there is "overwhelming" evidence that Armstrong was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program."
McQuaid said he was "sickened" by the report.
Livestrong goes on without founder
Armstrong: 'I've been better'
What's next for Armstrong?
But he emphasized, "Cycling has a future."
In a statement, the union wrote, "Today's young riders do not deserve to be branded or tarnished by the past or to pay the price for the Armstrong era."
Armstrong has steadfastly maintained his innocence. At an event Sunday, he did not refer to the controversy directly but said it's been "an interesting and at times very difficult few weeks."
Armstrong's story -- that of a cancer survivor who tamed the grueling three-week race more than any other cyclist before or since -- had made him a household name. But allegations of doping long dogged his career.
Then came this month's finding by the USADA. Highlights of USADA report
The agency announced it would ban Armstrong from the sport for life and strip him of his results dating from 1998. The decision wiped out 14 years of his career. McQuaid said Monday the cycling union would not appeal USADA's decision.
McQuaid, speaking at a news conference Monday, said he does not believe cycling will ever be free from doping, because "I don't think in any aspect of society there are no cheats. I do believe that doping can be hugely reduced."
The keys are education programs and how teams are structured, he said.
Monday's news conference turned somewhat contentious as reporters asked whether the cycling union had looked the other way for years despite growing allegations of widespread doping in the sport. Armstrong had made two donations to the union for anti-doping technology.
McQuaid insisted his organization never ignored the concerns raised about possible doping. And he wrote off any suggestion that Armstrong's contributions had led the organization to make any decision on the issue.
"The UCI has tested Lance Armstrong 218 times. If Lance Armstrong was able to beat the system, then the responsibility for addressing that rests not only with the UCI but also with" the anti-doping agencies that accepted the results, the cycling union said in its statement.
The International Olympic Committee also is reviewing the evidence and could revoke Armstrong's bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games.
It is now up to the organizers of the Tour de France whether it will nominate alternate winners for the 1999-2005 tours. The Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs the 21-day event, has said it will decide after the ruling.
The cycling union's decision leaves Greg LeMond as the only American to win the tour. He did so in 1986, 1989 and 1990.
In the past, Armstrong, 41, argued that he has taken more than 500 drug tests and never failed. In its 202-page report, the USADA said it had tested Armstrong less than 60 times and the International Cycling Union conducted about 215 tests.
"Thus the number of actual controls on Mr. Armstrong over the years appears to have been considerably fewer than the number claimed by Armstrong and his lawyers," the USADA said. With Armstrong's disgrace, will anything change?
The agency didn't say that Armstrong ever failed one of those tests, but his former teammates testified as to how they beat tests or avoided the test administrators altogether. Several riders also said team officials seemed to know when random drug tests were coming, the report said.
Speaking to participants in his cancer-fighting foundation's annual Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Armstrong said, "People ask me a lot how are you doing. And I tell them I've been better, but I've also been worse."
In his brief remarks to the crowd, Armstrong didn't mention the recent findings by the USADA.
He stepped down last week as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation but said he will continue to be involved. Some of the foundation's donors are furious over the scandal and want their money back.
"We will not be deterred," Armstrong said Friday night at the organization's 15th anniversary celebration in Austin. "We will move forward." Doping scandal costs Armstrong sponsors, charity
The controversy also has taken its toll on Armstrong's endorsement deals.
On the same day he stepped away from the leadership of his foundation, Nike, which initially stood by Armstrong, dropped him with a terse statement citing what it called "seemingly insurmountable evidence" that he participated in doping.
Hours later, brewery giant Anheuser-Busch followed suit, saying it would let Armstrong's contract expire at the end of the year. Nike and Anheuser-Busch said they still planned to support Livestrong and its initiatives.
Professional cycling couldn't escape the backlash either as Dutch bank Rabobank announced it is to end its sponsorship of pro cycling teams in the wake of the doping scandal.