Cycling: Tour de France titles stripped from disgraced Lance Armstrong will not be reallocated

 

The 1999 to 2005 Tours de France will be forever without a winner after Lance Armstrong was stripped of the titles, the International Cycling Union confirmed today.

The UCI on Monday ratified the decision taken by the United States Anti-Doping investigation to ban Armstrong for life and strip him of all results since August 1998, including his seven successive Tour wins.

At a special meeting of the UCI's management committee today, it was ruled results following any future disqualifications relating to the Armstrong years, 1998 to 2005, would not be reallocated.

Cycling's world governing body also called on Armstrong and all other affected riders to return prize money won while using performance-enhancing drugs.

A UCI statement read: "With respect to Lance Armstrong and the implications of the USADA sanctions which it endorsed on Monday, October 22, the management committee decided not to award victories to any other rider or upgrade other placings in any of the affected events.

"The committee decided to apply this ruling from now on to any competitive sporting results disqualified due to doping for the period from 1998 to 2005, without prejudice to the statute of limitation. The committee also called on Armstrong and all other affected riders to return the prize money they had received.

"The UCI management committee acknowledged that a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period - but that while this might appear harsh for those who rode clean, they would understand there was little honour to be gained in reallocating places."

The UCI has come under intense criticism and scrutiny before and since the publication of USADA's 1000-page reasoned decision document, which concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond is among those to call for a change of leadership, but president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, now honorary president, have stood firm.

Allegations were levelled at the UCI for accepting donations from Armstrong, and, although any wrongdoing is denied, the management committee will commission an independent investigation.

The UCI statement added: "In order to ensure that UCI and cycling could move forward with the confidence of all parties, the governing body also decided to establish a fully independent external commission to look into the various allegations made about UCI relating to the Armstrong affair.

"The committee agreed that part of the independent commission's remit would be to find ways to ensure that persons caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage."

Moves will begin next month, with recommendations to be published no later than June 1, 2013.

"UCI is determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport," McQuaid said.

"We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the independent commission and we will put cycling back on track.

"Today, cycling is a completely different sport from what it was in the period 1998-2005.

"Riders are now subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport.

"Nevertheless, we have listened to the world's reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and have taken these additional decisive steps in response to the grave concerns raised."

Pending the results of the independent report, defamation proceedings against Paul Kimmage, a former cyclist and Sunday Times journalist, have been suspended, the UCI confirmed.

The UCI statement added: "While continuing strongly to maintain the merits of UCI's case, the committee decided to seek to suspend the UCI legal action against journalist Paul Kimmage, pending the findings of the independent commission.

"UCI president Pat McQuaid and honorary president Hein Verbruggen who are individual parties to the case will similarly seek to put their cases on hold."

The Armstrong affair has ripped a hole through the heart of the sport.

At this week's route presentation for next summer's 100th Tour, the 41-year-old Texan's sequence of seven straight wins were marked using asterisks.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme believed no one should replace Armstrong as winner, as few racing in the era are untainted by doping, particularly the use of blood-booster EPO. He now has his wish.

Armstrong declined the opportunity to cooperate with USADA, but following Monday's ruling removed the reference to his seven Tour wins from his Twitter profile.

PA

 

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