Decision time for UCI on Armstrong finally here | Inquirer Sports

Decision time for UCI on Armstrong finally here

/ 01:06 PM October 22, 2012

Cyclist Lance Armstrong addresses participants at The LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride at the Palmer Events Center on October 21, 2012 in Austin, Texas. AFP

GENEVA — The long wait will finally be over Monday when cycling’s governing body announces whether it will ratify Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban and loss of seven Tour de France titles ordered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid is set to announce whether the UCI will accept or appeal the sanctions — and ratify USADA’S decision to strip Armstrong of his Tour titles — or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Following that, it will then be the turn of the Tour de France organizers to have their say.

Tour president Christian Prudhomme is awaiting the UCI’s decision before removing Armstrong’s name from the record books as the race prepares to celebrate its centenary edition next year.

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Armstrong won consecutive Tours from 1999-2005. Prudhomme said the Tour will have no official winners for those races if the UCI strips Armstrong of his wins.

Cyrille Guimard, a former sprinter who won seven Tour stages, has been highly critical of the UCI and thinks Armstrong may be let off.

“It’s not Armstrong’s interest which is at stake in this affair, but the interest of all those who are involved closely or from afar,” Guimard told RMC radio Sunday. “I’m fairly skeptical. An amnesty is in the pipeline.”

If Armstrong’s victories are not reassigned there would be a hole in the record books and it would mark a shift in how organizers treated similar cases in the past.

When Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory for a doping violation, organizers awarded the title to Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory after the doping disqualification of American rider Floyd Landis.

USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong’s era.

The agency said 20 of the 21 rider on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been “directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations” or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists “similarly tainted by doping.”

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Armstrong has been relatively quiet since USADA’s 200-page report stunned the sporting world.

But on Sunday, he greeted about 4,300 cyclists at his Livestrong charity’s fundraiser bike ride, before retreating into privacy as he braced himself for the UCI’s decision.

Armstrong spoke briefly, telling the crowd he’s faced a “very difficult” few weeks. But he did not otherwise mention USADA’s report detailing evidence of performance-enhancing drug use by Armstrong and his teams.

“I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse,” said Armstrong, who has lost some of his big sponsors — like Nike and Trek Bicycle — as well as stepping down as chairman of Livestrong.

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TAGS: International Cycling Union, Lance Armstrong, News, Sports, UCI, US Anti-Doping Agency
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