Lance loses seven Tour titles
CYCLING:LANCE ARMSTRONG, the most decorated, celebrated and controversial rider in cycling history, has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after refusing to contest charges of doping, drug trafficking, and administering of drugs to others, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Armstrong, who has not admitted any of the charges, withdrew his co-operation in the case levelled against him by Usada, which has responded by banning the 40-year-old for life and scrubbing all of his career titles.
The Colorado-based agency now looks set on a collision course with cycling’s governing body, the UCI, which is expected to dispute Usada’s claim of absolute jurisdiction to punish Armstrong and effectively shred the sport’s recent history by taking the case to the court of arbitration for sport.
This year, Andy Schleck was awarded the 2010 Tour de France winner’s jersey, amid embarrassment from the race organisers and Schleck himself, after Alberto Contador was stripped of his title.
If Usada’s punishment is allowed to stand, the UCI will have to find a way of expunging Armstrong from cycling history while facing the prospect of rewarding other athletes with murky pasts.
Cycling great Sean Kelly believes Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles will “cast a long shadow” over the sport for years to come.
Kelly, a four-time green jersey winner at the Tour during the 1980s, believes a huge amount of damage will be done to the sport should the sanctions against Armstrong be upheld.
He said: “It will depend on what happens from here as it is still not certain that his punishment of being stripped of his titles will stand. It needs to be decided if the UCI and ASO (the Tour de France organisers) are the ones who should punish him, so it will depend on that. But if he does lose those titles then it would be a huge blow for cycling and for Lance himself.
“It would cast a long shadow. The sport has come a long way from where we were 10-15 years ago. It has put in a lot of effort to cleaning its act up and this would set it back.”
Kelly, who is currently part of Eurosport’s exclusively live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana, said: “If we look back at the time when Lance was racing and winning the Tour it was a situation where a lot of riders were not free of doping.
“But if he loses his titles it will be very difficult to decide who would get those wins.
“You could be in a situation where you might have to go a long way down the list of finishers.”