The name Lance Armstrong is to be expunged from the record books after cycling’s world governing body yesterday accepted a recommendation to strip the American of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life.
The UCI ratified the sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-doping Agency, who concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
The battle against doping is still to be won, the UCI were warned, and despite intense criticism UCI president Pat McQuaid insisted he would not be resigning for the perceived failures of his organisation in tackling the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme believes the race must not have a victor from 1999 to 2005 after Armstrong’s punishment and called on the Texan to return his winnings.
“The formal decision has to be taken by the UCI but for us, we must have a clean record,” said Prudhomme. “This period must be marked by the absence of winners. The UCI rules are clear. When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back.”
A special meeting of the UCI’s management committee will take place on Friday to discuss the “exact sporting consequences” of the decision, including whether the titles and prize money will be re-distributed.
Armstrong, who battled back from cancer to return to professional cycling, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and refused to co-operate with the USADA investigation.
All his results dating back to August 1, 1998 were swiftly annulled. It meant Armstrong, who won the world title in 1993, has a Tour de France best of 36th, in 1995. Those decisions were taken in August, with USADA’s 1,000-page reasoned decision document published earlier this month and an abbreviated version published on its website for all to see.
In accordance with the World Anti-doping Code, the UCI had 21 days to respond, until October 31.
Rather than taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the UCI accepted the findings.
Armstrong or the World Anti-doping Agency could yet take the case to CAS. It was not immediately clear how – or if – Armstrong would respond, but he cuts an increasingly isolated figure.
Oakley have joined Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Trek, Giro and RadioShack in ending their sponsorship of the 41-year-old.