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UCI agrees to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour titles

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UCI agrees to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour titles

GENEVA (AP) -- Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by cycling's governing body Monday following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his teams.

International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid announced that the federation accepted USADA's report on Armstrong and would not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," McQuaid said at a news conference. "This is a landmark day for cycling."

The decision clears the way for Tour de France organizers to officially remove Armstrong's name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race would go along with whatever cycling's governing body decides and will have no official winners for those years.

USADA said Armstrong should be banned and stripped of his Tour titles for "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong.

"I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report," McQuaid said, singling out the testimony of David Zabriskie. "The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind boggling."

Armstrong denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests. But he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency's arbitration hearings, arguing the process was biased against him. Former Armstrong team director Johan Bruyneel is also facing doping charges, but he is challenging the USADA case in arbitration.

On Sunday, Armstrong greeted about 4,300 cyclists at his Livestrong charity's fundraiser bike ride in Texas, telling the crowd he's faced a "very difficult" few weeks.

"I've been better, but I've also been worse," Armstrong, a cancer survivor, told the crowd.

While drug use allegations have followed the 41-year-old Armstrong throughout much of his career, the USADA report has badly damaged his reputation. Longtime sponsors Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch have dropped him, as have other companies, and Armstrong also stepped down last week as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer awareness charity he founded 15 years ago after surviving testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and brain.

Armstrong's astonishing return from life-threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story that transcended the sport. However, his downfall has ended "one of the most sordid chapters in sports history," USADA said in its 200-page report published two weeks ago.

Armstrong has consistently argued that the USADA system was rigged against him, calling the agency's effort a "witch hunt."

If Armstrong's Tour victories are not reassigned there would be a hole in the record books, marking a shift from how organizers treated similar cases in the past.

When Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory for a doping violation, organizers awarded the title to Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory after the doping disqualification of American rider Floyd Landis.

USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong's era.

The agency said 20 of the 21 riders on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been "directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations" or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists "similarly tainted by doping."

The world's most famous cyclist could still face further sports sanctions and legal challenges. Armstrong could lose his 2000 Olympic time-trial bronze medal and may be targeted with civil lawsuits from ex-sponsors or even the U.S. government.

In total, 26 people -- including 15 riders -- testified that Armstrong and his teams used and trafficked banned substances and routinely used blood transfusions. Among the witnesses were loyal sidekick George Hincapie and admitted dopers Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

USADA's case also implicated Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, depicted as the architect of doping programs, and longtime coach and team manager Bruyneel.

Ferrari -- who has been targeted in an Italian prosecutor's probe -- and another medical official, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, received lifetime bans.

Bruyneel, team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose "Pepe" Marti opted to take their cases to arbitration with USADA. The agency could call Armstrong as a witness at those hearings.

Bruyneel, a Belgian former Tour de France rider, lost his job last week as manager of the RadioShack-Nissan Trek team which Armstrong helped found to ride for in the 2010 season.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Miami Heat

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Miami Heat

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 91-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night at Capital One Arena...

1. The first half didn't feature many highlights for the Wizards, as they managed just 29 points in what was their worst half of the season so far. This play, though, was nice.

Mike Scott hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter:

Scott had only four points in nine minutes.

[RELATED: WILL JOHN WALL MISS GAMES WITH HIS INJURY?]

2. The Wizards had a special guest in attendance. Nationals ace Max Scherzer showed up and was nice enough to join Chris Miller on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast.

This particular part of the interview was funny. Scherzer was asked who would be the best basketball player on the Nats and who would play the dirtiest. Scherzer was honest:

3. The Wizards were down by as many as 25 points, but they made it a game in large part due to Bradley Beal catching fire in the second half. He hit three threes in the third quarter, including this one:

Beal finished with a game-high 26 points.

4. John Wall (eight points) didn't hit his first shot until there was just 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. But his first shot was a big one, a timely three that helped key the WIzards' comeback charge:

5. Wall would hit another three soon after that:

The Wizards had a final shot attempt, but Beal's stepback jumper rimmed out. They are 9-6 on the season with the Raptors up next.

[RELATED: WIZARDS STORM BACK, BUT LOSE TO HEAT]

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Will John Wall miss any games with his latest injury?

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Will John Wall miss any games with his latest injury?

With how poorly John Wall played on Friday night against the Miami Heat, it makes sense that there is a specific explanation why.

Wall, who went scoreless until 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, says he had little mobility in his left knee due to fluid buildup. It all stems from last weekend when he was administered two IVs by the Wizards' training staff so he could play against the Atlanta Hawks.

Wall was given the fluids to combat a bad cold that was compounded by a migraine headache. They didn't settle correctly and now the fluid has collected in his left knee.

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Now a week later, Wall is still feeling the effects.

"I could barely move out there," he said. "I was feeling like some s***."

Wall has been dealing with this for several days - he first mentioned it in an interview with NBC Sports Washington last weekend -  but said Friday was particularly bad due to it being chilly in Capital One Arena. The Wizards share a stadium with the NHL's Washington Capitals.

Wall was held to just eight points in the Wizards' 91-88 loss to Miami. He shot 3-for-12 from the field in 35 minutes.

Wall's eight points matched his lowest scoring output in a game since Dec. 12, 2014 when he had six. He has never been held scoreless in a game, but had zero points in the first 41:25 on Friday night.

With Wall admittedly not feeling well, the question now becomes whether he will miss any time. Fluid buildup isn't a serious injury, but the Wizards happen to have their first back-to-back games coming up on Sunday and Monday. They will play the Raptors and Bucks, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

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Wall said he has full confidence in the Wizards' training staff and the team's doctors to decide whether he will be good to go on Sunday for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff. It will depend on how he feels on Saturday after getting a night's rest.

But given the fact it's a back-to-back set and given that it's so early in the season, it would not be surprising if Wall missed one of those games. The Wizards have already beaten Toronto, ironically without Wall. With one win under their belt, they would at worst be tied in the season series with a loss.

Against Milwaukee, Wall may have more incentive to play given the season series. Head-to-head records determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding.

Whether Wall misses a game or not, this is another obstacle in a season full of minor injuries for Wall. He missed the game against the Raptors because he sprained his left shoulder in the game before. He has had migraines, has been sick, sprained his ankle on Monday vs. the Kings and now he can't shake this fluid buildup in his left knee. After a full offseason of being healthy, all of a sudden Wall is having some tough luck.

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