DISGRACED Lance Armstrong’s fate was sealed tonight, as cycling’s under-fire world governing body decided to back a life ban for doping and strip him of his record seven Tour de France titles.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) said it supported the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to erase the rider’s entire career after August 1998, as president Pat McQuaid called the scandal “the biggest crisis” the sport had ever faced.
“We will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and we will recognise the sanction that USADA has imposed,” McQuaid told a news conference in Geneva, saying he had been “sickened” by the revelations.
“The UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France wins. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling… He deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”
Earlier this month the US body released a devastating dossier on Armstrong, detailing over 202 pages and with more than 1,000 pages of supporting testimony how he was at the heart of the biggest doping program in the history of sport.
The revelations, including evidence from 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates, plunged a sport which has been working hard to rid itself of its murky doping past into crisis.
McQuaid succeeded Hein Verbruggen as president of world cycling after Armstrong’s seventh and final Tour victory in 2005 and is credited with boosting the body’s anti-doping program, notably with the pioneering blood passport program.
The Irishman was under pressure to answer how Armstrong and his teams managed to dope for so long without being detected. But he rejected calls to quit, vowing to continue his work against the scourge of doping.
Armstrong’s sporting reputation as the cancer survivor who fought back to win cycling’s most gruelling and celebrated race has been shattered since the revelations, leading to sponsors leaving him in droves.
There has also been fears of a wider withdrawal of financial backing for the sport after Dutch sponsor Rabobank said it was ending the sponsorship of its professional cycling team after a 17-year association.
The sponsor described professional cycling as “sick” to its core and unlikely to recover in the foreseeable future.
The strongly-worded comments went to the heart of claims of failings at the UCI and in particular to McQuaid, who has been criticised for failing to see the extent of doping within the sport.