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October 12, 2012

Armstrong marches on the day after report

America — Lance Armstrong tried to treat it like any other day.

The world-renowned cyclist was at the office of his cancer-fighting foundation, "talking about next week's events and plans for 2013," he said on Twitter.

But Thursday was different. It was the day after the evidence came out — a voluminous report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that painted him as a drug-using bully at the center of what the group called the biggest doping conspiracy ever concocted in sports.

The fallout from the agency's version of events, and its raft of supporting documents, started coming down in small bites from friends, foes, supporters and detractors around the globe.

Twitter posts with the "livestrong" hash tag — the name of Armstrong's charitable foundation — seemed to be running about 50-50, from those who thought the USADA report cemented Armstrong as a fraud, to those who didn't care and admire him for the millions of dollars he has raised for cancer research.

Either way, there was no denying the impact of the report, which provides USADA's justification for ordering Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles stripped. The weight of 26 witnesses, including 11 ex-teammates, forced people to reach a conclusion about the rider.

"This is as if Mount Everest just showed up in his front yard," said Daniel Coyle, author of "Lance Armstrong's War" and "The Secret Race," which he wrote with Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate and witness against Armstrong.

"The detail is crystal clear," Coyle said. "And each of the stories perfectly aligns. The details are so clear, you can't imagine anyone making it up. The voices you hear in the affidavits are remarkable, persuasive, precise and not, in every case, reluctant."

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