Lance Armstrong stripped of all seven Tour de France wins by UCI

 

Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by cycling's governing body.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has accepted the findings of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (Usada) investigation into systematic doping.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said: "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten."

McQuaid added that Armstrong had been stripped of all results since 1 August, 1998 and banned for life.

Armstrong report key claims

Lance Armstrong
  • Achievements of USPS/Discovery Channel pro cycling team accomplished through the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen
  • Armstrong's career at the team was fuelled from start to finish by doping
  • More than a dozen former team-mates, friends and former team employees confirm a fraudulent course of conduct
  • Armstrong acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers and others within and outside the sport and his team
  • He had ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use but over the doping culture of the team
  • Team staff were good at predicting when testers would turn up and seemed to have inside information
  • Evidence is beyond strong and as strong as any case ever brought by Usada

Armstrong, 41, received a life ban from Usada for what the organisation called "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

The American overcame cancer to return to professional cycling, before winning the Tour de France for a record seven times in successive years from 1999 to 2005.

He has always denied taking performance-enhancing drugs but chose not to fight Usada's charges against him.

The UCI has been criticised for failing to do more to prevent doping. However, McQuaid, who took over from Hein Verbruggen in 2005, said he had "no intention" of resigning.

"This is a crisis, the biggest crisis cycling has ever faced," said Irishman McQuaid. "I like to look at this crisis as an opportunity for our sport and everyone involved in it to realise it is in danger and to work together to go forward.

"Cycling has a future. This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew.

"When I took over in 2005 I made the fight against doping my priority. I acknowledged cycling had a culture of doping. Cycling has come a long way. This is a landmark day.

"I'm sorry that we couldn't catch every damn one of them red-handed and throw them out of the sport at the time."

Usada released a 1,000-page report this month which included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and the doping activities of its members.

Usada praised the "courage" shown by the riders in coming forward and breaking the sport's "code of silence".

Armstrong, who retired in 2005 but returned in 2009 before retiring again two years later, has not commented on the details of Usada's report. His lawyer, Tim Herman, described it as a "one-sided hatchet job".

McQuaid said he was "sickened" by what he read in the Usada report, singling out the testimony of Armstrong's former team-mate David Zabriskie.

"The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind-boggling," he said. "It is very difficult to accept and understand that that went on."

How does blood doping work?

Referring to the fact that Armstrong was tested for doping more than 200 times and never caught, he said: "The cheats were better than the scientists and we can't be blamed for that; we're a sporting organisation.

"But cycling has changed a lot since then. What was available to the UCI then was much more limited compared to what is available now. If we had then what we have now, this sort of thing would not have gone on."

Usada chief executive Travis Tygart welcomed the UCI's decision, but called for a new body to be set up to probe further into cycling's murky past.

"It is essential that an independent and meaningful Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established so that the sport can fully unshackle itself from the past," he said.

"There are many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors and the omerta [code of silence] has not yet been fully broken."

McQuaid was quizzed over a $100,000 (£62,300) donation made by Armstrong to the UCI in 2002, a year after he had a suspicious test for banned substance eythropoietin (EPO) at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.

Asked by BBC sports editor David Bond how he could justify the payment, McQuaid said: "We used the money against doping; it was done openly and put to good use."