By Doug Russell Special to Published Oct 24, 2012 at 3:00 PM

He is still a hero to many, but make no mistake about it, Lance Armstrong is a fraud.

This week, the world cycling governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) swung the final nail in the coffin of arguably the worst cheater sports has ever known, stripping Armstrong of all of his Tour de France wins and banning him from the sport for life.

Last week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) finally released their evidence against Armstrong, a 202-page document with sworn testimony from 26 individuals ranging from former teammates to massage therapists to doctors who had indisputable direct knowledge of Armstrong's rampant use of myriad illegal performance enhancing drugs.

Armstrong, likely knowing that the jig was up months ago, has been nearly silent on the matter since announcing in late August that he was tired of fighting decade-long allegations of doping, characterizing the USADA's case against him as "an unconstitutional witch hunt" and saying the process was "one-sided and unfair."

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, enough is enough," Armstrong concluded. "For me, that time is now."

Of course we all know what happened next. The USADA asserted that Armstrong's Tour de France victories were stripped and that he was banned forever from the sport. The one thing that USADA failed to comprehend is that they had no jurisdiction whatsoever to make any such proclamation. That they looked silly and clumsy in making their preposterous statement lent many of Armstrong's most fervent fans to also believe that their man Lance was being singled out for persecution because of other's jealousy of his excellence.

But while USADA could not strip Armstrong of anything, the UCI certainly could. When the organizers of the Tour de France declared that whatever conclusions the UCI made they would abide by, Armstrong's world began to shatter around him.

After UCI chief Pat McQuaid asserted, ''Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,'' one of sport's most epic falls from grace was complete. Nike terminated Armstrong's contract. He stepped own from his own charity, Livestrong. Radio Shack, Oakley, Anheuser-Busch, Waterloo-based Trek Bicycles, Giro Helmets, 24-Hour Fitness and others all severed their ties to the once-bankable star.

The details of the USADA's case against Armstrong showed a wanton disregard for the rules in what was described as "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport had ever seen."

McQuaid commented that Armstrong's teams had a "win at all costs" attitude fueled by "deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion."

To be sure, Armstrong has his supporters, many of whom have suffered from cancer like the now-disgraced cyclist. In fact, after Armstrong announced that he would no longer fight the charges against him, his Livestrong Foundation reported a spike in donations, according to spokeswoman Katherine McClane.

In all, some $500 million for cancer research, treatment and support has been raised by Livestrong based on the cycling success and goodwill of its famous founder.

There is no denying that Armstrong's personal fight against cancer and fundraising efforts have won him fans that will not ever be shaken by whatever he did for the sake of winning at all costs. There are even a great number of admirers that will never believe that he did anything untoward and is truly the victim of a witch hunt.

It is one thing to not care that Armstrong cheated. It is another to still hold out in your addled brain that he is innocent of the accusations.

Nevertheless, the lines have been drawn up into three camps. The fervent but shrinking Armstrong camp; the USADA camp of cleaning sports up from all PED's at all costs; and the people who are so weary of steroid talk they just no longer care.

After all, we have been discussing performance enhancing drugs non-stop for almost 25 years. It was in 1988 when Ben Johnson was stripped of his Olympic gold medal after he was found to have used an anabolic steroid to run faster.

Since then, we have endured PED scandals in baseball, swimming, track and field, and the ever-present substances that run rampant in football. As for cycling, because there have been so many implicated riders, this is a sport that stands alone in its own filth.

So, it should not be surprising that Armstrong still has at least a couple of supporters within this begrimed community. Even one teammate, George Hincapie, said during his deposition testimony against Armstrong that "I have witnessed many important things that Lance has done for his fellow man through battling cancer and being a role model for many. My testimony is not intended to take away from or diminish those things."

That may be, and while Armstrong does posses many gifts as a fundraiser and friend to the stars, few fellow riders share Hincapie's admiration for him as a benevolent and kind human being. Fact of the matter is, Lance Armstrong as a person is not a particularly likable fellow.

One theme of the testimony against Armstrong was that he coerced through intimidation his teammates into doping, and was ahead of the testers when it came to cheating the system. Teammate Tyler Hamilton says that as recently as last year Armstrong had threatened to make his life a "living hell" if Hamilton continued to tell the truth to investigators. In fact, the list of Armstrong accusers and detractors within the cycling community is as widespread as the plague in the 1300s.

Yet among his many fans, Armstrong remains a deity. His story of surviving cancer when given a less than 40 percent chance to live is inspiring. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to try to find a cure. His example of overcoming life's greatest obstacle has arguably saved lives by giving cancer patients hope.

Yet he is now a pariah in his own sport through his own actions, greed, and ambition. Of course there have been other cheaters in sports. But cheating alone does not make you an automatic expatriate of your sport.

Jason Giambi was one of the worst steroid cheats caught in baseball's dragnet in the early 2000s was one of BALCO's top clients. Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP and one of the game's highest paid players for the New York Yankees, apologized for his actions and was largely forgotten for two reasons.

First, he owned up to his misdeeds and asked for forgiveness. Secondly, despite being a steroid cheater, Giambi was a good guy, beloved by teammates and fans, who he treated with kindness and respect.

Today, Giambi is a finalist for the managerial opening with the Colorado Rockies.

It is difficult to imagine similar redemption for Armstrong because of his own actions; many of which go beyond just his use of performance enhancing drugs.

In announcing that they were dropping Armstrong as an endorser of their sunglasses, Oakley said in a written statement, "When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility. We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest."

There will be others. Other athletes that inspire and motivate us. Other athletes that will do good deeds; not as a grandiose and calculated PR campaign, but rather because it is just the right thing to do.

And when that time comes, Lance Armstrong can finally just fade away and only be remembered for the fraud that he was.

Doug Russell Special to

Doug Russell has been covering Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports for over 20 years on radio, television, magazines, and now at

Over the course of his career, the Edward R. Murrow Award winner and Emmy nominee has covered the Packers in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXII and XLV, traveled to Pasadena with the Badgers for Rose Bowls, been to the Final Four with Marquette, and saw first-hand the entire Brewers playoff runs in 2008 and 2011. Doug has also covered The Masters, several PGA Championships, MLB All-Star Games, and Kentucky Derbys; the Davis Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Sugar Bowl, along with NCAA football and basketball conference championships, and for that matter just about anything else that involves a field (or court, or rink) of play.

Doug was a sports reporter and host at WTMJ-AM radio from 1996-2000, before taking his radio skills to national syndication at Sporting News Radio from 2000-2007. From 2007-2011, he hosted his own morning radio sports show back here in Milwaukee, before returning to the national scene at Yahoo! Sports Radio last July. Doug's written work has also been featured in The Sporting News, Milwaukee Magazine, Inside Wisconsin Sports, and Brewers GameDay.

Doug and his wife, Erika, split their time between their residences in Pewaukee and Houston, TX.