Cycling: UCI to issue Lance Armstrong response as crisis builds

Troubled sport loses 17-year backing of sponsor Rabobank

The International Cycling Union will finally reveal its response to the Lance Armstrong scandal on Monday, the beleaguered governing body announced yesterday. Its conclusions cannot come soon enough after another dire day for the sport as it suffered its biggest blow yet in the wake of the US anti-doping agency's report with the withdrawal of one of its longest serving sponsors.

Rabobank is to pull out of the sport at elite level as a direct result of the US anti-doping agency's investigation, claiming cycling is no longer "capable of creating a clean and honest sport".

The UCI received the 1,000 page report 10 days ago and amid mounting criticism of its lack of leadership and wider handling of the affair, both historic and current, has at last decided on a course of action. There would seem little option but to support Usada in their banning of Armstrong for life and the stripping of his seven Tour de France titles.

It will require a display of firm leadership from the governing body to start to repair the damage done by what Usada termed "the most sophisticated, professionalised and succcessful doping programme that sport has ever seen". The decision of Rabobank to end its team sponsorship after 17 years demonstrates the crisis now facing the sport. The greatest concern will be that unless the UCI produces a convincing response, Rabobank could prove the first of many.

Pat McQuaid, the UCI president, will answer questions on the Usada findings for the first time in Geneva on Monday afternoon. If the UCI rejects the report, the case will move on to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

McQuaid has floated the idea of an amnesty in an attempt to try and close the book on a deeply troubled period in the sport's history. It would be for the World Anti-doping Agency to decide whether such a scheme could go ahead and its president John Fahey yesterday responded positively to the suggestion.

"I'm very interested," said Fahey. "But do you leave it as simply cycling, or do you say, 'well look, let's have an amnesty across the board and if there is a problem in any other sport – including cycling – let everybody come clean and let's start again?' That suggestion is one which I am sure my board would be very interested in entertaining."

Rabobank's withdrawal came the day after the UCI opened a doping case against one of its own riders, the Spaniard Carlos Barredo, but its timing, and the strength of the statements by bank officials, still shocked the sport and drew widespread criticism from current riders.

David Millar, the British cyclist, called it "sickening". He tweeted: "Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from your young clean guys who are part of the solution. Sickening."

Marianne Vos, who rides in the Rabobank women's team and won Olympic gold this summer in the road race, also believes it will hit the innocent hardest. She said it was "understandable in the light of the current doping cases, but unfortunately this hurts the many innocent [riders] in our sport." Another Rabobank rider, Robert Gesink, said: "It is extremely bitter that we are now paying for what happened in the past."

The team backed by the Dutch bank have had issues with doping in the past. Levi Leipheimer, one of those who testified against Armstrong, admitted taking EPO when he rode for Rabobank. Leipheimer said that the team's doctor helped him dope and that other riders also used banned substances. In 2007 Michael Rasmussen appeared set for victory in the Tour before being pulled from the race by the team and then sacked after it was revealed he had lied about his whereabouts and missed drug tests in the build-up to the race.

"It is with a heavy heart, but it is an irreversible decision for our bank," said Bert Bruggink, a member of the bank's board of governors. "We are no longer convinced that the international professional cycling world is capable of creating a clean and honest sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future. For us, [Usada's report] was the straw that broke the camel's back."

The UCI said: "In light of the difficult period, namely the high public interest in past doping issues and perhaps a more recent action taken by the UCI against a rider of the team, the UCI understands the context which has led to this decision being reached."

* Bernhard Eisel, Mark Cavendish's key support rider for the last five years, has signed a new deal to stay at Sky for another three year. Eisel rode with Cavendish for HTC-Highroad and Sky but will not follow his "brother" to Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

£12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot