Tour de France winner list gets 7-year void
GENEVA — The seven Tour de France titles stripped from Lance Armstrong will not be awarded to any riders, and the American cyclist and his teammates should return their prize money, the sport's governing body said Friday.
Acknowledging “a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period,” the UCI said the list of Tour winners will remain blank for the years from 1999 to 2005.
“This might appear harsh for those who rode clean, (but) they would understand there was little honor to be gained in reallocating places,” the UCI said after a board meeting in Geneva.
The UCI said Armstrong and “all other affected riders” in the case should return their prize money. That amounts to almost $4 million in Tour money from Armstrong.
Armstrong attorney Sean Breen declined comment.
Also Friday, a Dallas promotions company that paid Armstrong $7 million for winning his sixth Tour de France is demanding he return the money. A spokesman for SCA Promotions says the company will send Armstrong a demand letter on Monday now that Armstrong seven Tour de France titles have been revoked.
The company had tried in 2005 not to pay Armstrong because of allegations of doping, but chose to settle.
The sport's governing body also ordered an independent, outside investigation to examine allegations about the UCI's conduct and its relationship with Armstrong raised by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that detailed systematic cheating by the Texan and his teammates. In the report, UCI is accused of making a financial deal from Armstrong to cover up a suspicious doping test.
Riders and officials involved in doping programs will also be targeted by the inquiry commission.
As well as leaving the Tour winner's list blank from 1999-2005, the UCI agreed “not to award victories to any other rider or upgrade other placings in any of the affected events.” Other stage-race titles lost by Armstrong include the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and Dauphine Libere in 2002 and '03.
The UCI did not directly address the status of Armstrong's Olympic time-trial bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games, which could be stripped by the International Olympic Committee.
Five riders finished second behind Armstrong in his record run of seven straight Tour wins: Alex Zuelle of Switzerland, Jan Ullrich of Germany, Joseba Beloki of Spain, Andreas Kloeden of Germany — later a teammate of Armstrong at Astana and RadioShack — and Ivan Basso of Italy.
Ullrich, the 1997 winner who was denied three more titles by Armstrong, has said he does not want to be upgraded in the standings.
Armstrong is one of three riders stripped of cycling's biggest prize but the only one not to be replaced.