GENEVA – Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by the International Cycling Union on Monday.
Cycling world governing body UCI said it was ratifying the sanctions taken earlier this month by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
“The UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and the UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said at a news conference in Geneva.
The UCI decision was taken after examination of a USADA report on Oct. 10 that said Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team led “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
McQuaid said the UCI had accepted the findings of the USADA investigation. The 41-year-old American has been stripped of all results since Aug. 1, 1998, and banned for life.
Armstrong “deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” McQuaid said.
Asked if the UCI supported efforts to get back prize money from Armstrong for his Tour de France wins, he said: “This is one of the things that we’ll be discussing at a special committee on Friday. We’ll need a change of rules.”
Armstrong refused to co-operate with the USADA, whose 1,000-page report included sworn testimony from 26 people including 15 riders, as well as financial payments, emails and lab tests that “prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong.”
The Texan, who fought back from cancer to win seven straight Tour titles from 1999 to 2005, decided in August not to contest the evidence. His lawyer described USADA’s report as a “one-sided hatchet job”.
“When I took over as president I made the fight against doping my priority,” McQuaid said. “It remains my priority … there’s still more work to be done.”
He added that he was “sickened” by what he read in the USADA report. “The story of how (David) Zabriskie was coerced, and in some ways forced, into doping is mind-boggling.”
However, McQuaid said the UCI was more limited in the past on what it could do to combat doping.“If we had the tools we have now then, there would have much much less (doping) going on,” he said.
McQuaid said cycling “has a future” and it was “not the first time that cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew and to engage in the painful process of confronting its past.”
“This is a landmark day for cycling. Cycling has endured a lot of pain as it has absorbed the impact of the USADA report,” he said.
The Armstrong affair was “an opportunity to recognize that our sport is in danger and that everyone needs to work together to go forward. Will it ever be free of doping? To be honest with you I’d say no.”