Lance Armstrong‘s historic straight Tour de France cycling championships never happened. That’s what the UCI, the international governing body of the sport, said in its scathing support of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s report that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs in a wide-ranging fashion during his legendary career.
His career is now notorious.
Once considered the greatest rider in Tour history, the American was cast aside like a flat tire by his sport Monday, formally stripped of his seven titles and banned for life for his involvement in what U.S. sports authorities describe as a massive doping program that tainted all of his greatest triumphs. The Tour de France wants the prize money he received back. Professionally, it cannot get much worse for Armstrong.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” said Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union. “This is a landmark day for cycling.”
McQuaid announced that his group, known as UCI, accepted sanctions imposed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and would not appeal them to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. McQuaid said he was “sickened” by some of the evidence detailed by USADA in its 200-page report and hundreds of pages of supporting testimony and documents.
The condemnation by cycling’s most senior official confirmed Armstrong’s pariah status, after the UCI had backed Armstrong at times in trying to seize the doping investigation from USADA. McQuaid said the UCI endorsed a lifelong ban for Armstrong after almost two weeks studying the American agency’s evidence, and will meet Friday to discuss going after his 2000 Olympic bronze medal.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he no longer considers Armstrong to be a champion from 1999 to 2005 and wants him to pay back his prize money.
“We wish that there is no winner for this period,” he said in Paris. “For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners.”
Armstrong’s representatives had no immediate comment, but the rider was defiant in August as he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency’s arbitration hearings. He argued the process was rigged against him.
“I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours,” Armstrong said then. “The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that.”