The governing body of cycling will not appeal the United State Anti-Doping Agency’s findings that Lance Armstrong led a massive doping program, concurring with the USADA decision that he should be banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, said that the group would not pursue an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” McQuaid said at a news conference in Geneva. “This is a landmark day for cycling.” Tour de France organizers can now officially remove Armstrong’s victories from 1999-2005 from the record books. Christian Prudhomme, Tour director, indicated that the race would comply with the UCI decision and will list no winners for those seven Tours.
“We’ve come too far in the fight against doping to go back to the past,” McQuaid said. “Something like this must never happen again.”
Armstrong has denied doping but chose in August to drop his fight against drug allegations. On Oct. 10, the United States Anti-Doping Agency released its report, in which it said that Armstrong led “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
“I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse,” Armstrong, in his first public comments, told participants in a bike ride for his Livestrong cancer charity in Texas. Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer, stepped down as the head of Livestrong last week, shortly before he was dropped by Nike and other corporate sponsors. Today, his final remaining sponsor, Oakley, severed ties with him.
“The mission is bigger than me, it’s bigger than any individual,” Armstrong said at a celebration of Livestrong’s 15th anniversary. ”I am … truly humbled by your support. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for me and my family, my friends and this foundation.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency, according to the New York Times, has 21 days in which to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
The USADA report contained statements from 11 former U.S. Postal and Discovery teammates of Armstrong’s and, rider by rider, the wall of silence around cycling’s dirty secret, the Times’ Juliet Macur wrote Sunday.
Interviews with more than a dozen riders, their wives, lawyers involved in the case, antidoping officials and team executives revealed that Armstrong’s undoing was the culmination of an inquiry that played out over more than two years — but that drastically turned over the course of several weeks this spring as more and more cyclists contributed their own damning stories to the investigation.
At that point, antidoping officials hardly had an airtight case. [USADA chief Travis] Tygart was hurriedly approaching cyclists from Armstrong’s United States Postal Service teams.
“Look, the system of doping in the sport is coming down, and all the riders, including Lance Armstrong, are going to be given an opportunity to get on the lifeboat,” he told them. “Are you on it?”
Rider after rider asked, “Am I going to be the only one?”
Poll results: Most believe Armstrong is innocent