Here’s a can of worms opened up by US Anti-Doping Agency’s announcement that it will rescind all seven of Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France titles. Who gets them?
I’d recommend nobody. There’s no way to go back that long ago and legitimately award the titles to some of those cyclists.
Simply draw a heavy black line through those years in the Tour de France record books.
This would be the list of winners:
1999 — Alex Zulle, Switzerland (Banesto)
2000 — Jan Ullrich, Germany (Telekom)
2001 — Jan Ullrich, Germany (Telekom)
2002 — Joseba Beloki, Spain (ONCE)
2003 — Jan Ullrich, Germany (Bianchi)
2004 — Andreas Kloden, Germany (T-Mobile)
2005 — Ivan Basso, Italy (Team CSC)
For instance, is Jan Ullrich deserving of three more Tour de France titles? The German was stripped of his third place finish in 2005 and banned in 2006 after charges surfaced he was involved in buying doping products.
Ivan Basso also was linked with the same doping scandal as Ullrich and did not ride in the 2006 Tour de France. In 2007 he admitted to “attempted doping” and served a two-year suspension.
Joseba Beloki was implicated in the same doping scandal as Ullrich and Basso, but he was cleared by Spanish doping officials.
Going back to 1999, Alex Zulle was fresh off the Festina cycling team which was banned en masse from the 1998 Tour de France for doping. Zulle was one of five cyclists on the team who admitted to doping.
Allegations arose in 2009 that Andreas Kloden went to a clinic for an illegal blood transfusion during the 2006 Tour de France.
Maybe these cyclists were all clean before they were caught up in the doping crackdowns, but there’s no way to be sure.
It’s interesting that the 1996 winner, Bjarne Riis of Team Telekom, has freely admitted to doping during that year’s Tour de France. His name still stands as the winner of that race at the Tour de France official website. Draw a line through that year too; the runner-up was Ullrich.
Above, a scene from Triplets of Belleville.