The decision by Lance Armstrong - one of sport's greatest serial champions - to stop fighting doping allegations has been met with disbelief by critics and fans alike.
The cancer survivor will be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his record will be forever tarnished as that of a cheat.
Lance Armstrong has always strenuously denied any allegation of doping
Yet the 40-year-old Texan continues to deny any wrong-doing, claiming: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'enough is enough'. 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."
Armstrong was known as a ferocious rider who never quit, and won worldwide admiration for his battle against cancer, returning to health to win cycling's most famous race seven times.
While his sporting record will be destroyed, his heroic standing outside cycling will surely also be tarnished.
Armstrong's Livestrong foundation, which helps cancer survivors, helped start the trend of charity wristbands, and his yellow bracelets became trendy for celebrities and fans alike in the middle of the last decade, raising millions of pounds.
On Twitter, Lord Sugar reacted to the news the cyclist was giving in by saying: "Lance Armstrong says can't be bothered to fight over drug allegations. Yeh right ... you would fight like crazy to retain your integrity."
Rugby's Mike Tindall said: "The biggest loser in the Lance Armstrong affair is the sport of cycling, to try and change results over the 15 years seems ridiculous."
But others defended Armstrong, saying he never failed a drugs test.
Armstrong in the 2000 Tour de France riding with the late Marco Pantani, another cyclist who was tainted by doping charges
Armstrong chose to back down from fighting an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) into allegations that he cheated by using banned substances.
The International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's governing body, had backed the retired rider's legal challenge to the agency's authority to act.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said the UCI now had "no choice but to strip the titles under the code".
He said: "It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes.
"It's a heartbreaking example of win-at-all-costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There's no success in cheating to win."
The USADA has said previously that 10 of Armstrong's former team-mates were ready to give evidence against him, alleging he used banned substances as far back as 1996.
Known to cycling aficionados, Armstrong came to transcend his sport after writing It's Not About The Bike, the inspirational story of his fight to survive testicular cancer in 1996 and go on to win his first Tour de France three years later.
His love life also saw him featuring in the gossip columns after he divorced his wife and mother of three of his children Kristin Richard, got engaged to singer Sheryl Crow, only to split with her and father two more children with girlfriend Anna Hansen.
He has also dated actress Kate Hudson in the past.
Armstrong was named Overseas Sports Personality of the Year in 2003.
The BBC will not remove that title from him following his announcement.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "Lance Armstrong was voted Overseas Sports Personality of the Year based on his sporting achievements at that time."
One of Armstrong's sponsors, Nike, said it would stand by him.
A spokesman said: "Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position.
"Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors."
More:Lance Armstrong Tour De France International Cycling Union Uk News Usada US Anti-doping Agency
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