[Postscript: Oct. 23, 2012 — Lance Armstrong removed “7-time Tour de France winner” from his Twitter bio.]
Officials for the governing body of cycling say they agree that Lance Armstrong cheated by using performance-enhancing drugs during his career and they won’t challenge the sanctions against him.
The Union Cycliste Internationale came to the conclusion after reviewing the documents and testimony supplied by the US Anti-Doping Association. Armstrong loses his seven Tour de France championships between 1999 and 2005, as well as any other victories after Aug. 1, 1998.
In a statement issued Monday, the UCI defended itself in not uncovering the widespread doping on the US Postal Service pro cycling team “where the expression to ‘win at all costs’ was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion.”
“Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team. The UCI has always been the first international sporting federation to embrace new developments in the fight against doping and it regrets that the anti-doping infrastructure that exists today was not available at that time so as to render such evasion impossible. …
“The UCI has recognized the problem of doping within the sport and taken significant steps to confront the problem and to clean up cycling. Today’s riders are subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport. Cycling has been a pioneer in the fight against doping in sport under the leadership of the UCI and this role has been recognised by WADA.”
The UCI pointed out that Armstrong was tested by a number of anti-doping agencies, including the USADA, during his career and never tested positive.
“The UCI tested Tyler Hamilton 40 times and found him positive. It tested Floyd Landis 46 times and found him positive as the winner of the Tour de France. The list of riders that it has found positive does not end there.
“The UCI has tested Lance Armstrong 218 times. If Lance Armstrong was able to beat the system then the responsibility for addressing that rests not only with the UCI but also with WADA and all of the other anti-doping agencies who accepted the results.”
The UCI decision doesn’t stop at Armstrong, but includes Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie. In testimony, they all admitted to doping while members of the US Postal Service team and received six-month suspensions.
Hincapie and Barry had decided to retire from cycling at the end of this season. The revelation cost Leipheimer his job as a member of the Omega Pharma-Lotto cycling team.
CyclingNews.com reports that UCI president Pat McQuaid denied in a press conference Monday that a $100,000 donation that Armstrong made to UCI in 2002 prompted the cycling group to “cover up” suspect samples in the 2001 Tour de Suisse and 2002 Dauphine Libere.
“Don’t try to make the connection between the suspicious test and the donation. There were no positive tests from him.”
As for who will receive Armstrong’s Tour de France championships, McQuaid said that issue has yet to be determined. The owners of the Tour de France cycling race already have said they won’t issue the championships to anyone because doping was so rampant in the peloton; McQuaid said that’s for UCI to decide.
The founder and former chairman of Livestrong Foundation (Armstrong stepped down last week) attended the group’s main charity bike ride in Austin on Sunday. Although he didn’t mention the USADA investigation and the pending UCI decision, Armstrong told the crowd:
“I’ve been better; but I’ve also been worse.”
About 4,300 cyclists attended the charity bike ride that raised about $1.7 million for the foundation that supports cancer victims and their families.
The USADA released its documentation less than two weeks ago. In that time, Armstrong also stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation and lost endorsements from Nike, Trek, and Anheuser-Busch.
On Monday, SCA Promotions of Dallas said it would seek a $7.5 million repayment from the 2004 Tour de France.
SCA had promised to pay $5 million to Armstrong for winning his sixth straight Tour de France. Armstrong and the cycling team had to go to court to get the payment, with interest, after SCA balked in light of doping allegations.
Armstrong won the case and SCA had to pay $5 million, plus $2.5 million in interest. Now SCA will ask for that money to be repaid.