Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte has offered his opinion on the reports that Lance Armstrong will be stripped of his seven titles over doping accusations this week.
Armstrong, who is known as one of the most accomplished athletes in history, has surrendered the fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that claims the cyclist used performance-enhancing drugs during his unprecedented seven Tour de France wins.
The surrender will result in the loss of his impressive titles, which Lochte expressed grief over.
"If Lance is innocent, it's a sad time in sports history," said the U.S. Olympic swimmer, according to Celebuzz. "I know that it would be awful to go through that."
Armstrong has faced accusations of doping since the beginning of his decorated career, but the cyclist unceasingly denied the charges over the decades.
"I don't have firsthand knowledge of all the facts in the situation," offered Lochte of the cyclist's controversy. "I don't like making assumptions based on what the media reports. None of us will know, so ultimately none of us should judge … There's always two sides to the story."
Moreover, Lochte imparted hat Armstrong's case shed light on an ever-present problem in modern competitive sports.
"I do feel that there should be zero tolerance for anything that artificially enhances performance," said the 27-year-old swimmer. "But it should not take years after seven wins for this to be so heavily investigated and debated."
Referring to the doping drama as "very unfortunate," Lochte shifted to focus onto Armstrong's nonprofit cancer research foundation.
"I know … his focus is now on the Lance Armstrong Foundation, [which] I heard has raised nearly $500 million," added the gold medalist. "There may be many reasons why he stopped fighting the doping charges, but that's his personal decision, and I am not here to pass judgment on anyone."
In conclusion, the swimmer noted a possible positive outcome of the USADA's case against Armstrong.
"Everyone should learn from this and do everything in their power to make the testing system more efficient and to educate young athletes, coaches, and parents about the dangers and consequences of doping," Lochte said in closing.
Armstrong announced his surrender to the USADA in a statement posted to his website LanceArmstrong.com on Thursday.
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough,'" explained the 40-year-old athlete. "For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999."
In a swift reply to Armstrong's statement, the USADA announced it would not only strip Armstrong of his titles, but also would prevent the athlete from competitive cycling altogether.