Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 20 News List

UCI strips Armstrong of titles

FALLEN HERO:Sponsors Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch have dropped him, and Armstrong has also stepped down as chairman of his cancer awareness charity

AP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Armstrong has consistently argued that the USADA system was rigged against him, calling the agency’s effort a “witch hunt” which pressured witnesses into cooperating with it.

“It is for Mr Armstrong to defend himself against such witness statements that he deems to be incorrect. It is not for the UCI to do so,” the UCI said in a statement.

If Armstrong’s Tour victories are not reassigned there would be a hole in the record books, marking a shift from 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 Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory after the doping disqualification of Floyd Landis.

The 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 riders 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.”

The world’s most famous cyclist could still face further sports sanctions and legal challenges. Armstrong could lose his 2000 Olympic time-trial bronze medal and may be targeted with civil lawsuits from former sponsors or even the US government.

McQuaid said the UCI’s board would meet on Friday to discuss the Olympic issue and whether to update other race results taking account of Armstrong’s disqualifications.

A so-called “Truth and Reconciliation” commission, which could offer a limited amnesty to riders and officials who confessed to doping practices, would also be discussed, UCI legal adviser Philippe Verbiest said.

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