Lance Armstrong Officially Stripped of Tour de France Titles
Lance Armstrong was officially stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling early Monday morning, when the UCI confirmed the USADA’s sanctions against the 41-year-old. This announcement confirms that case will not be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In a press conference, UCI President Pat McQuaid called the USADA’s report “sickening,” and some anecdotes that it contained “mind boggling.” He added that while Armstrong still has not admitted to doping, “all the evidence is there in this report.”
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," McQuaid said. "This is a landmark day for cycling."
Issues such as prize money and Armstrong’s 1999-2005 yellow jerseys will be discussed by the UCI Management Committee on Friday—though if Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has his way, Armstrong’s wins will not be re-awarded, instead remaining empty. This is, at least in part, a response to the fact that 20 of 21 riders on the Tour podium from 1999-2005 have been “directly tied to likely doping through admission, sanctions, public investigations” or in other ways.
Prudhomme has also asserted that Armstrong will have to pay back the prize money he won over the years at the tour—an amount thought to be around $3 million. "The UCI rules are clear. When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back," he said.
USADA president Travis Tygart said that the UCI made the “right decision,” but emphasized that the work is just beginning. “There must be more action to combat the system that took over the sport,” he said in a statement. “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.”
In spite of the agreement between the two organizations, one comment by the UCI continued what many have called the “feud” between them.
"Even apart from any discussion on jurisdiction, it would have been better that the evidence collected by USADA had been assessed by a neutral body or person who was not involved in collecting the evidence and prosecuting the defendant," a statement offered by the UCI at the news conference said. "This would have avoided both the criticism of a witch hunt against Mr. Armstrong and the criticism that the UCI had a conflict of interest."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is still debating whether or not it might strip Armstrong of his 2000 Sydney Olympics time trial bronze medal.
“We will study the UCI’s response to the USADA report and await to receive their full decision including further potential sanctions against Lance Armstrong as well as regarding any ramifications to his case,” an IOC official said.
Adding insult to injury, Oakley, Armstrong's last remaining major sponsor, announced that it, too, would be dropping him. “Based on UCI’s decision today and the overwhelming evidence that USADA presented, Oakley has severed its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.