Armstrong loses Tour de France titlesBy: JULIEN PRETOT
GENEVA – Lance Armstrong was yesterday stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life on Monday after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) sanctions against the American.
The long-awaited decision has left cycling facing its ‘greatest crisis’ according to UCI president Pat McQuaid and has destroyed Armstrong’s last hope of clearing his name.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” McQuaid told a news conference as he outlined how cycling, long battered by doping problems for decades, would have to start all over again.
“The UCI wishes to begin that journey on that path forward today by confirming that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that it will recognise the sanction that USADA has imposed.
“I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report.”
On October 10, USADA published a report into Armstrong which alleged the now-retired rider had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.
Armstrong, 41, had previously elected not to contest USADA charges, prompting USADA to propose his punishment pending confirmation from cycling’s world governing body.
Former Armstrong team mates at his US Postal and Discovery Channel outfits, where he won his seven successive Tour titles from 1999 to 2005, testified against him and themselves and were given reduced bans by the American authorities.
“It wasn’t until the intervention of federal agents...they called these riders in and they put down a gun and badge on the table in front of them and said ‘you’re now facing a grand jury you must tell the truth’ that those riders broke down,” McQuaid added.
Armstrong, widely accepted as one of the greatest cyclists of all time given he fought back from cancer to dominate the sport, has always denied doping and says he has never failed a doping test.
He said he had stopped contesting the charges after years of probes and rumours because ‘there comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough”’.