Lance Armstrong was stripped on Monday of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by the governing body of cycling following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that has accused him of leading a massive doping programme on his teams.
International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said the USADA’s report had been accepted and they would not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” Mr. McQuaid said at a news conference. “This is a landmark day for cycling.”
The decision clears the way for Tour de France organisers to officially remove Armstrong’s name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999 to 2005.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race will go along with whatever UCI decides and will have no official winners for those years.
Armstrong's representatives had no immediate comments.
The USADA said Armstrong should be banned and stripped of his Tour titles for “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen” within his US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. He also loses all race results achieved since August 1998.
The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong, including one that he pressured them to take banned drugs.
“I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report,” Mr. McQuaid said, singling out the testimony of former teammate David Zabriskie. “The story he told of how he was coerced and, to some extent, forced into doping is just mind-boggling.”
Armstrong has denied doping, saying he had passed hundreds of drug tests. But he chose not to fight the USADA at one of the agency’s arbitration hearings, arguing that the process was biased against him. The USADA report, released earlier this month, was aimed at showing why the agency ordered sanctions against him.
“At the moment, Lance Armstrong hasn’t admitted to anything. Yet all the evidence is there in this report that he doped,” Mr. McQuaid said.
Former Armstrong team director Johan Bruyneel is also facing doping charges, but he is challenging the USADA case in arbitration.
On Sunday, Armstrong greeted about 4,300 cyclists at his Livestrong charity’s fundraiser bike ride in Texas, telling the crowd that he’s faced a “very difficult” few weeks.
“I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse,” Armstrong, a cancer survivor, said.
While drug use allegations have followed the 41-year-old Armstrong throughout much of his career, the USADA report has badly damaged his reputation.
Long-time sponsors — Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch — have dropped him, as have other companies, and Armstrong also stepped down last week as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer awareness charity he founded 15 years ago after surviving testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and brain.