Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles, could he face jail?
'Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten,' says UCI
LANCE ARMSTRONG has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life by the sport's governing body after it accepted the damning conclusions of an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency, which accused him of being central to the "most sophisticated doping scheme in sport".
The UCI said it would not appeal against the findings of the 1,000-page USADA report, paving the way for Armstrong to be airbrushed out of history. All of Armstrong's results since 1 August 1998, including his seven Tour wins between 1999 and 2005, will now be erased from the record books. The titles had been removed from his Wikipedia page within half-an-hour of the announcement.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten," said UCI president Pat McQuaid at a press conference on Monday. "I'm sorry that we couldn't catch every damn one of [those who were doping] and throw them out of the sport at the time."
The news is the "ultimate blow" for Armstrong according to CNN. "First he stepped down as chairman of the cancer charity Livestrong. Then he was stripped of his sponsorships with Nike and Anheuser-Busch. Now the former seven-time Tour de France winner has been banned from the sport for life. Fourteen years of his career are officially wiped from the record books."
But there could be worse to come says the New York Times. "The International Olympic Committee is reviewing his case and now will likely strip him of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. [And] SCA Promotions, a Dallas-based insurance company, will likely start the process of trying to recoup the bonus money it awarded Armstrong for winning Tour after Tour."
He could even end up in jail, suggests the Daily Telegraph in Australia, which notes that Armstrong could now be in "deep legal trouble".
"Armstrong has neither confessed nor apologised because it would probably be tantamount to convicting himself of perjury and volunteering for a spell behind bars, as well as setting himself up to be sued from several quarters. Those contingencies are now more confronting."
Not everyone believes that Armstrong should be "forgotten". John Ashdown of The Guardian argues: "Surely you keep him in mind as an example and a cautionary lesson for the future."
But despite the UCI's stance there is still anger at the organisation's failure to act beforehand. "This is a good day for clean cycling and it would get better if Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid [vice-president and president of the UCI] took the honourable course and resigned," says David Walsh of the Sunday Times on Twitter.
Elsewhere on the social networking site people were quick to poke fun at Armstrong. "If anyone is feeling worthless today, just think, you have now got the same amount of Tour De France titles as Lance Armstrong," pointed out one user.