Armstrong stripped of Tour wins

Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by cycling’s governing body.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has accepted the findings of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (Usada) investigation into Armstrong.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said: “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten.”

McQuaid added Armstrong had been stripped of all results since 1 August, 1998 and banned for life for doping.

On what he called a “landmark day for cycling”, the Irishman, who became president of UCI in 2005, said he would not be resigning.

“This is a crisis, the biggest crisis cycling has ever faced,” he said. “I like to look at this crisis as an opportunity for our sport and everyone involved in it to realise it is in danger and to work together to go forward.

“Cycling has a future. This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew.

Armstrong report key claims

Lance Armstrong

  • Achievements of USPS/Discovery Channel pro cycling team accomplished through the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen
  • Armstrong’s career at the team was fuelled from start to finish by doping
  • More than a dozen former team-mates, friends and former team employees confirm a fraudulent course of conduct
  • Armstrong acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers and others within and outside the sport and his team
  • He had ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use but over the doping culture of the team
  • Team staff were good at predicting when testers would turn up and seemed to have inside information
  • Evidence is beyond strong and as strong as any case ever brought by Usada

“When I took over [as president] in 2005 I made the fight against doping my priority. I acknowledged cycling had a culture of doping. Cycling has come a long way. I have no intention of resigning as president of the UCI,” McQuaid said.

“I’m sorry that we couldn’t catch every damn one of them red-handed and throw them out of the sport at the time.”

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme called the UCI’s decision “totally logical” and repeated his wish that the results from the Armstrong years are not reallocated.

“We hope that there is no winner in these editions,” he said. “A formal decision must be taken by the UCI but for us, very clearly, there must be a blank record.”

The management committee of the UCI will meet on Friday to discuss the issue.

Armstrong, 41, received a life ban from Usada for what the organisation called “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

The American, who overcame cancer to return to professional cycling, won the Tour de France in seven successive years from 1999 to 2005.

He has always denied doping but chose not to fight the charges filed against him.

Usada

released a 1,000-page report earlier this month

which included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and the doping activities of its members.

Usada praised the “courage” shown by the riders in coming forward and breaking the sport’s “code of silence”.

Armstrong, who retired in 2005 but returned in 2009 before retiring for good two years later, has not commented on the details of Usada’s report. His lawyer Tim Herman, however, has described it as a

“one-sided hatchet job”.

McQuaid said he was “sickened” by what he read in the Usada report, singling out the testimony of Armstrong’s former team-mate David Zabriskie.

“The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind-boggling,” he said. “It is very difficult to accept and understand that that went on.”

And referring to the fact that Armstrong was tested for doping more than 200 times and never caught, he said: “The cheats were better than the scientists and we can’t be blamed for that, we’re a sporting organisation.

“But cycling has changed a lot since then. What was available to the UCI then was much more limited compared to what is available now. If we had then what we have now, this sort of thing would not have gone on.”

Usada chief executive Travis Tygart welcomed UCI’s decision, but called for a new body to be set up to probe further into cycling’s murky past.

“It is essential that an independent and meaningful Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established so that the sport can fully unshackle itself from the past,” he said.

“There are many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors and the omerta [code of silence] has not yet been fully broken.”

McQuaid was quizzed over the $100,000 (£62,300) donation made by Armstrong to the UCI in 2002, one year after the American cyclist had had a suspicious test for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.

Asked by BBC sports editor David Bond how he could justify the payment, McQuaid said: “We used the money against doping, it was done openly and put to good use.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/20008520

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