UCI agrees to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour titles
TribLIVE Sports Videos
GENEVA — Seven lines of blanks. From 1999 to 2005. There will be no Tour de France winner in the record book for those years.
Once the toast of the Champs-Elysees, Lance Armstrong was formally stripped of his seven Tour titles Monday and banned for life for doping.
As far as the Tour is concerned, his victories never happened. He was never on the top step of the podium. The winner's yellow jersey was never on his back.
The decision by the International Cycling Union marked an end to the saga that brought down the most decorated rider in Tour history and exposed widespread cheating in the sport.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” said Pat McQuaid, president of the governing body. “Make no mistake, it's a catastrophe for him, and he has to face up to that.”
It's also devastating for Tour de France organizers, who have to carve seven gaping holes from the honor roll of the sport's biggest event and airbrush Armstrong's image from a sun-baked podium on the Champs-Elysees.
No more rides through Paris for the grim-faced cancer survivor bearing the American flag. No champagne. From the sport's perspective, it's all gone.
“We wish that there is no winner for this period,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme said Monday in Paris. “For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners.”
Armstrong's fiercely defended reputation as a clean athlete was shattered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency two weeks ago, when it detailed evidence of drug use and trafficking by his Tour-winning teams. USADA released its report to show why it ordered Armstrong banned from competition back in August. Monday's judgment by the UCI was just the necessary next legal step to formalize the loss of his titles and expel him from the sport.
It will likely also trigger painful financial hits for Armstrong as race organizers and former sponsors line up to reclaim what are now viewed as his ill-gotten rewards, though the cyclist maintains he never doped.
Prudhomme wants Armstrong to pay back prize money from his seven wins, which the French cycling federation tallied at (euro) 2.95 million ($3.85 million). Armstrong also once was awarded $7.5 million plus legal fees from Dallas-based SCA Promotions Inc., which tried to withhold paying a bonus for the rider's 2004 Tour victory after it alleged he doped to win.
The U.S. government could also get involved in a case brought by Floyd Landis, who was key to taking down his illustrious former teammate by turning whistleblower in 2010.
The losses pile up for a man who dedicated himself to victory, over other cyclists and the cancer that almost killed him in 1996.
Neither Armstrong nor his representatives had any comment about Monday's decision, but the rider was defiant in August when he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency's arbitration hearings. He argued the process was rigged against him.
“I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours,” Armstrong said then. “The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that.”
The condemnation by McQuaid, cycling's most senior official, confirmed Armstrong's pariah status, after the UCI had backed him at times in trying to seize control of the doping investigation from USADA.
McQuaid announced that the UCI accepted the sanctions imposed by USADA and would not appeal them to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. His board will meet Friday to discuss going after Armstrong's 2000 Olympic bronze medal and the possibility of setting up a “Truth and Reconciliation” commission to air the sport's remaining secrets.
Armstrong's astonishing return from life-threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story that transcended the sport. His downfall has ended “one of the most sordid chapters in sports history,” USADA said in its report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
- Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
- Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
- McCutchen, Pirates cruise to interleague victory over Twins
- NFL notebook: Redskins re-sign star linebacker Kerrigan
- Drone to help Northern Regional police zone in on missing, fleeing people
- Beaver County widow won’t lose home over $6.30 late fee
- Steelers’ Bell unsure why NFL reduced his suspension
- Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh transfers great fare it’s been known for in the Pittsburgh region to the Steel City
- Pirates notebook: Melancon bails out Watson with extended outing
- Arsenal hard cider now served at Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park