News Column

Lance Armstrong Stripped of Tour de France Titles

October 22, 2012

Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by the International Cycling Union on Monday.

Cycling world governing body UCI said it was ratifying the sanctions taken earlier this month by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

"The UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and the UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling." UCI president Pat McQuaid said at a news conference in Geneva.

The UCI decision was taken after examination of a USADA report on October 10 which said Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team led "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

McQuaid said the UCI had accepted the findings of the USADA investigation. The 41-year-old American has been stripped of all results since August 1, 1998 and banned for life.

Armstrong "deserves to be forgotten in cycling," McQuaid said.

Asked if the UCI supported efforts to get prize money back from Armstrong for his Tour de France wins, he said: "This is one of the things that we'll be discussing at a special committee on Friday. We'll need a change of rules."

Armstrong refused to co-operate with the USADA, whose 1,000-page report included sworn testimony from 26 people including 15 riders, as well as financial payments, emails and lab tests that "prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong."

The Texan, who fought back from cancer to win seven straight Tour titles from 1999 to 2005, decided in August not to contest the evidence, and his lawyer described USADA's report as a "one-sided hatchet job".

Irishman McQuaid, who became UCI president in 2006 after Armstrong's Tour wins, said he had no intention of resigning over the affair.

"When I took over as president I made the fight against doping my priority. It remains my priority ... there's still more work to be done. I have no intention of resigning," he said.

He added that he was "sickened" by what he read in the USADA report. "The story of how (David) Zabriskie was coerced, and in some ways forced, into doping is mind-boggling," he said.

However McQuaid said the UCI was more limited in the past on what it could do to combat doping.

"What was available to the UCI at the time (1999-2005) was much more limited to what we have now. If we had the tools we have now then, there would have much much less (doping) going on," he said.

McQuaid said cycling "has a future" and it was "not the first time that cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew and to engage in the painful process of confronting its past."

"This is a landmark day for cycling. Cycling has endured a lot of pain as it has absorbed the impact of the USADA report," he said.

However, McQuaid admitted to "the biggest crisis cycling has ever faced." The Armstrong affair was also "an opportunity to recognise that our sport is in danger and that everyone needs to work together to go forward. Will it ever be free of doping? To be honest with you I'd say no."

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Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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