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The Brief: Aug. 24, 2012

The end of a controversy has clouded the legacy of one of Texas' most famous athletes and policy activists.

Lance Armstrong at a TribLive event on April 21, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

The end of a controversy has clouded the legacy of one of Texas' most famous athletes and policy activists.

The Associated Press reported late Thursday that champion cyclist Lance Armstrong had effectively dropped his fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which had accused him of using performance-enhancing substances throughout his career.

In a statement, Armstrong maintained his innocence but said he had grown tired of fighting the charges.

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now," he wrote on his website, adding, "The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense."

In response, the USADA announced that it would strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from competitive racing. 

Though doping accusations have hounded Armstrong for years, the USADA officially filed charges against him in June. Armstrong sued the agency in a federal court in Austin, but the case was thrown out earlier this week.

Travis Tygart, the CEO of USADA, whom Armstrong in his statement accused of conducting an "unconstitutional witch hunt," lamented the news.

"It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes," Tygart said. "It's a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There's no success in cheating to win."

Armstrong, an Austin resident, had over the years used his prizewinning athletic career and celebrity to promote his cancer-research foundation and other health-related policies. Armstrong, a onetime rumored gubernatorial candidate, played a key role in the creation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and for years has supported a statewide smoking ban in Texas.

How Armstrong's surrender will affect his reputation on policy matters remains unclear. But as he wrote in his statement, he now intends to devote his energy to his foundation.

"We have a lot of work to do," he said, "and I'm looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction."

Culled:

  • A group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees filed a federal suit on Thursday against the Obama administration's new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which will grant deportation reprieves and work permits to some young illegal immigrants. The suit, filed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, claims that the program forces federal employees to break the law. "It places ICE agents in an untenable position where their political superiors are ordering them to violate federal law," Kobach said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "If they follow federal law, they will be disciplined by their superiors."
  • According to Politico, Republican Party officials and Mitt Romney surrogates have gone to great lengths to appease Ron Paul supporters ahead of next week's Republican National Convention. Presumably to avert a long-rumored mutiny among Paul supporters, Romney supporters have solicited input from Paul supporters on the party platform and have allowed votes on proposals from Paul backers in pre-convention meetings. "I hope that Ron Paul supporters and delegates saw a Republican National Committee that was fair, open and honest," said national GOP chairman Reince Priebus. "I think you’re seeing the beginning of a very peaceful conclusion to this and everyone being on the same page to elect Mitt Romney."
  • Texas Democrats on Thursday called for the resignation of a Lubbock County judge who made headlines this week when he told a local TV station that the re-election of President Barack Obama would incite a possible civil war. Kenny Ketner, the chairman of the Lubbock County Democratic Party, told CNN that the judge, Tom Head, should "do the right thing and resign and stop embarrassing Lubbock County." The Texas Democratic Party piled on with a statement: "This nonsense is what passes for mainstream in today's Republican Party. It's not only ridiculous, it's dangerous. It's crystal clear that Judge Head should resign." 

"I don't believe Congressman Akin can win that race." — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who has refused to withdraw from the Missouri Senate race

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