Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Governing body backs Lance penalties

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.

The decision by the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), 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," UCI president Pat McQuaid said at a news conference. "This is a landmark day for cycling."

Tour officials followed the announcement by saying they not only would remove Armstrong as the winner from 1999-2005 but would leave those races without a winner. It is an acknowledgement that given the extent of doping during that period, it would be difficult to give the titles to other riders without knowing if they were clean.

"We wish that there is no winner for this period," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said in Paris. "For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank."

Prudhomme also wants Armstrong to pay back prize money from his wins, an amount the French cycling federation tallied at $3.85 million.

Armstrong's fiercely defended reputation as a clean athlete was shattered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency two weeks ago, when it released a 200-page report detailing evidence of drug use and trafficking by his Tour-winning teams.

The agency released the report to show why in August it ordered Armstrong banned from competition and stripped of all his results, including the Tour titles, back to Aug. 1, 1998. Monday's judgment by the UCI was the necessary next legal step to formalize the penalties.

Neither Armstrong, who continues to maintain he never doped, nor his representatives had any comment. Armstrong was defiant in August when he chose not to fight the antidoping agency's charges at an agency arbitration hearing. He said the process was rigged against him and he wanted to spare his family and cancer charity stress and damage.

The condemnation by McQuaid was bittersweet for many riders and cycling fans. The UCI backed Armstrong in trying to seize control of the doping investigation at times over the years. It accepted $125,000 in donations from Armstrong at a time when two of his doping controls were questionable.

"It would be better if we hadn't done it," McQuaid said.

Also Monday:

• McQuaid said the UCI board will meet Friday to discuss going after Armstrong's 2000 Olympic bronze time trial medal and possibly setting up a "Truth and Reconciliation" commission to air the sport's remaining secrets.

• Insurance company SCA Promotions said it will seek to reclaim $7.5 million it paid to Armstrong after a 2006 arbitration proceeding stemming from its refusal to pay him a U.S. Postal Service team bonus after he won his sixth Tour de France. The company was wary of the doping allegations against him then.

• Oakley sunglasses became the latest sponsor to drop Armstrong.

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