Armstrong told to pay back Tour de France prize money
Shamed cyclist loses more sponsors as he faces heavy financial penalty for doping
DISGRACED cyclist Lance Armstrong has been told that he must repay £2.4m in Tour de France prize money after being stripped of his seven titles by the sport's governing body, the UCI.
The news is yet another financial hammerblow for the Texan, who also faces legal action over a $7.5m bonus paid to him by an insurance firm after he won his sixth Tour. The Sunday Times, sued by Armstrong over allegations of doping, may also attempt to recoup its money now that the cyclist has been exposed as a cheat, reports Time magazine.
To make matters worse for the former US Postal rider his sponsors continue to abandon him. The latest to jump ship is Oakley, the sunglass manufacturer, which had backed him since he was a teenager. They have followed in the footsteps of the likes of Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch in abandoning Armstrong.
It is believed that Armstrong won around £2.4m in prize money from his seven Tour de France triumphs between 1999 and 2005. But they have now been removed from the record books in the wake of the damning report from the US Anti-Doping Agency, whose findings were accepted by the UCI.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme told the BBC it was "totally logical" for the money to be returned. "The UCI rules are clear," he said. "When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back."
Prudhomme has also said that it would be best not to reallocate the Tour de France titles that Armstrong has lost. "We hope that there is no winner in these editions," he said. "A formal decision must be taken by the UCI but for us, very clearly, there must be a blank record."
Armstrong appeared to accept the UCI decision to strip him of the titles by removing reference to them on his biography on Twitter.
"It means that his best finish to the Tour will now be recorded as 36th, which he achieved in 1995 before he had cancer diagnosed the next year. However, he chose not to add that to his amended profile on the micro-blogging site," reported The Times.