Travis Tygart's first office at the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had a poster of Lance Armstrong in it featuring a version of this quotation: "Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on? I am on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day."
But over the past four months, Tygart, a lawyer who is now the CEO of USADA, has been the one doing the busting, driven by the same relentlessness and competitiveness that are Armstrong's hallmarks. Tygart has redrawn the heroic cyclist--cancer survivor, philanthropist and seven-time Tour de France winner--as a poster boy for cheating. Citing Tygart's "seemingly insurmountable evidence," longtime Armstrong sponsor Nike dropped him. The cyclist resigned as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer-treatment advocacy organization he co-founded. (Disclosure: I am a Livestrong donor.)
In June, Tygart concluded what seemed to be a never ending investigation of Armstrong (it began in spring 2010) by charging him with doping, orchestrating a drug ring for his U.S. Postal Service team from 1998 to 2005 and even strong-arming a potential witness during a Tour stage. "It was a culture of drug use, and the moral creed was, You do it if you want to be on this team, and if you don't, the community is going to attempt to destroy you," Tygart tells TIME from his Colorado Springs office.
Armstrong, who has denied doping charges for more than a decade and who never flunked a drug test, responded in July with a lawsuit accusing Tygart of leading an unconstitutional witch hunt. When that suit was tossed from federal court, he announced that he would not contest the allegations. "At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers' expense," he said.
In essence, the two men have accused each other of team tyranny, doing whatever serves their cause regardless of consequences. Tygart's riposte has been to unleash an avalanche of evidence, from e-mails and bank records to eyewitness accounts, drawing inferences of guilt that lacked any nuance or ambiguity. It was, in USADA's term, a "reasoned decision" that did not rely on drug tests. He lined up 11 former cycling teammates to testify against their team leader. There are 200 pages of detailed allegations of secret blood-doping sessions, EPO use, manipulation of drug tests and evasion of authorities. "So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sports history," Tygart concluded.
Not quite, since the International Cycling Union, which governs the sport globally, can appeal the charges. And what certainly hasn't concluded is the debate over whether Tygart's pursuit of Armstrong was a gratuitously expensive obsession--do Americans really care about bike races, in France, more than a decade ago?--or the pervasive culture of cheating in cycling and other elite sports needed to be crushed at any cost. "It's not personal," says Tygart. "That totally misses the point. It's about a mission and the belief that the rules should be upheld and that athletes want to compete clean and should have that right."