'Sickened’ UCI strips Armstrong of Tour wins
GENEVA - The Associated Press
Lance Armstrong still denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests during his career. EPA photoLance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by cycling’s governing body yesterday following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his teams.
UCI President Pat McQuaid announced that the federation accepted the USADA’s report on Armstrong and would not appeal to the CAS. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten,” McQuaid said at a news conference. “This is a landmark day for cycling.”
The decision clears the way for Tour de France organizers to officially remove Armstrong’s name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005. Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race would go along with whatever UCI decides and will have no official winners for those years.
USADA said Armstrong should be banned and stripped of his Tour titles for “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen” within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. Under the penalties, he loses all his race results since August 1998.
“I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report,” McQuaid said, singling out the testimony of former Armstrong teammate David Zabriskie. “The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind boggling.”
Armstrong denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests. “At the moment Lance Armstrong hasn’t admitted to anything, yet all the evidence is there in this report that he doped,” McQuaid said.
While drug use allegations have followed the 41-year-old Armstrong throughout much of his career, the USADA report seems to have marked a turning point in the saga. Longtime sponsors Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch dropped Armstrong last week, as did other companies, and he stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer awareness charity he founded 15 years ago after surviving testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and brain.
If Armstrong’s Tour victories are not reassigned there would be a hole in the record books, marking a shift from how organizers treated similar cases in the past. When Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory for a doping violation, organizers awarded the title to Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory after the doping disqualification of American rider Floyd Landis.
USADA’s position is that the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong’s era.
The agency said 20 of the 21 riders on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been “directly tied to likely doping.” It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists “similarly tainted by doping.”