UCI agrees to strip Armstrong of Tour titles after USADA report
Geneva, Switzerland (Sports Network) - The International Cycling Union has agreed to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles in the wake of the report from the United States Anti-Doping Agency that labeled the cycling champion and cancer survivor a drug cheat.
The UCI said it will not appeal USADA's decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and will recognize the agency's imposed sanctions. The USADA decision, announced in August, also banned Armstrong for life from the sport.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," said UCI president Pat McQuaid at a Monday news conference. "Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling now."
Tour de France organizers had indicated they would abide by the UCI's decision and would leave Armstrong's seven titles -- won in succession from 1999-2005 -- vacant.
Armstrong has always denied the doping allegations that have followed him throughout his career, pointing to the fact that he never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He had the option to fight the latest charges levied by USADA, but decided against doing so.
"The UCI has tested Lance Armstrong 218 times," the UCI said in its release Monday. "If Lance Armstrong was able to beat the system then the responsibility for addressing that rests not only with the UCI but also with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and all of the other anti-doping agencies who accepted the results."
The USADA release in August said Armstrong engaged in doping violations from at least August 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions.
On June 28, USADA charged Armstrong and the five other individuals with rules violations after an independent review panel's finding confirmed "sufficient and in fact overwhelming evidence."
USADA then released its findings earlier this month in a 202-page document, detailing the numerous witnesses that provided evidence of Armstrong's elaborate doping ring in his United States Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.
"Today, the UCI made the right decision in the Lance Armstrong case," said USADA CEO Travis Tygart in a statement Monday. "Despite its prior opposition to USADA's investigation into doping on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team and within the sport, USADA is glad that the UCI finally reversed course in this case and has made the credible decision available to it."
USADA accused Armstrong and his teams of using, attempting to use or possessing EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents. It also said blood samples from the 2009 Tour de France, when Armstrong returned from a brief retirement, showed "use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions."
Witnesses, according to USADA, also provided evidence that Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005.
"(The witnesses) accounts of their past provide a shocking insight into the USPS Team where the expression to 'win at all costs' was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion," the UCI said Monday.
"Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team. The UCI has always been the first international sporting federation to embrace new developments in the fight against doping and it regrets that the anti-doping infrastructure that exists today was not available at that time so as to render such evasion impossible."
Among the names providing evidence against Armstrong were Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France winner disqualified for doping violations, and longtime Armstrong confidant George Hincapie. Also included was information regarding Armstrong's ongoing relationship with Italian physician Michele Ferrari, banned for life by USADA for numerous doping violations in 2010.
"There are many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors and the omerta has not yet been fully broken," Tygart added. "Sanctioning Lance Armstrong and the riders who came forward truthfully should not be seen as penance for an era of pervasive doping. There must be more action to combat the system that took over the sport. It is important to remember that while today is a historic day for clean sport, it does not mean clean sport is guaranteed for tomorrow. Only an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission can fully start cycling on the path toward true reform and provide hope for a complete break from the past."
Armstrong has said the investigation by USADA wasn't about learning the truth, but instead was about punishing him at all costs.
The recent allegations have cost Armstrong numerous endorsements, including Nike. He also stepped down from his role as chairman of Livestrong, the charity he founded after surviving cancer.
10/22 13:10:53 ET