Lance Armstrong 'earned' career victories, says former mentor

Lance Armstrong's former mentor Jim Ochowicz says the cyclist "earned" his career titles, despite not contesting US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charges.

Armstrong, who denies doping, has been stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and banned for life by USADA.

But the sport's governing body, the UCI, has previously challenged USADA's jurisdiction over doping in cycling.

British Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome said the situation has added to cycling's "negative image".

Who decides if Lance Armstrong is guilty?

"UCI (International Cycling Union) is the governing body of the sport, normally they would be the ones who do the stripping of points, prizes and money, all the things that USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) have said.

"We are now going to get a row about actually implementing these sanctions and it is going to be messy.

"I think it will almost definitely end up at the Court of Arbitration for Sport."

Armstrong, 40, issued a statement on Friday saying he would not be contesting the USADA's charges, explaining he was tired of fighting the allegations. He never failed a drugs test.

The USADA said 10 of Armstrong's former team-mates were prepared to testify against him.

It said on Friday that Armstrong's decision not to fight the charges triggered his lifetime ban and led to his results dating back to 1 August 1998 being erased.

In a statement, Ochowicz, a former cyclist who mentored Armstrong before becoming manager of the BMC Racing Team, said: "I think Lance did a lot for the sport.

"We're all grateful to him for what he's done. I think he's earned every victory he's had.

"It's a tough day for cycling but we're going to carry on from here. I'm a friend of Lance's. I support his decision. He's done so much for our sport over the years."

He added: "I'm sad about what's transpired but, at the same time, I wish him luck with his family."

Armstrong won the Tour de France seven years in a row from 1999. He retired from cycling in 2005 but returned to the sport between 2009 and 2012.

Lance Armstrong spoke about the drug allegations in February 2011

Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong's sporting director at the US Postal Service cycling team from 1998 to 2005, was also charged by the USADA along with Armstrong and three others.

Bruyneel, 48, who denies doping and is continuing to fight the charges against him, said: "I'm disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general that things have reached a stage where Lance feels that he has had enough and is no longer willing to participate in USADA's campaign against him."

After finishing stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana on Friday, where he is in second overall position, Britain's Chris Froome told reporters: "It just adds to the negative image of our sport."

The World Anti-Doping Agency backed the USADA and stated that Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles should be "obliterated" following his decision.

But, throughout the case, the UCI has challenged USADA's authority over the sport, and has the option of appealing against the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Tour de France organisers said they would wait for the outcome of any stand-off between USADA and the UCI before taking action.