Any remote chance that Lance Armstrong had for redemption has now passed.
There is no place for Lance Armstrong in cycling. Our message is ..... cycling has a future. It will find a new path forward. We will start that journey today by recognising USADA.
With that, the International Cycling Union has taken the only option available and thrown Armstrong under a bus in a vain effort to distract everyone from the fact that it all happened under the watchful eyes of the UCI.
They have officially stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.
Now it’s real.
Oh, and they want their money back.
Tour boss Christian Prudhomme has said that the Amaury Sports Organisation—who run the Tour—will go along with whatever decision the governing body decides. Interestingly, they will leave the record books vacant rather than promoting anyone, according to Fox Sports.
Armstrong has now officially been reduced to a footnote in cycling history. When he is referred to in the future, it will be as the public face of everything that was wrong with the sport in the last part of the 20th century and the first part of this one.
Now, Armstrong alone will shoulder the blame for all that is bad in cycling. When doping raises its head, it will be Armstrong’s face that appears in the headline.
And that’s not fair. He wasn’t the first or the last rider to dope, nor should we buy into the fiction that Armstrong’s empire was the most sophisticated of all time; there were a hell of a lot of other teams beating the system with equally sophisticated schemes.
Armstrong is paying the price for making himself the highest-profile cyclist on the planet.
When USADA threw down the gauntlet to Armstrong and invited him to arbitration, his only hope was to make a full confession and heartfelt apology. He had to swallow his pride and throw himself on everyone’s mercy.
It’s easy to imagine that there was a very large number of people just praying that he would take the path that he eventually did. There are a lot of bruised egos and dented reputations strewn about Armstrong’s wake.
Incredibly, however, there are still those who believe that Armstrong is innocent.
Miguel Indurain, cycling legend and five-time winner of the Tour de France, has thrown his support behind Armstrong in an interview with Spanish radio station Marca, according to The Guardian.
"Even now I believe in his innocence," Indurain said. "He has always respected all the regulations… He has won all the cases he's had."
Indurain is, however, a member of an ever-shrinking minority.
Armstrong spoke out about recent events at the Livestrong Challenge ride, when he said (via The Age), “Obviously it's been an interesting and, as I said the other night, at times very difficult few weeks, people ask me a lot 'how you doing?' and I tell them, 'well, I've been better, but I've also been worse.'”
It’s hard to see things getting better in a hurry.
While the UCI's decision to accept USADA’s verdict may seem to be the end of the matter, they still managed to deliver a couple of backhanders to USADA in the process.
The World Anti-Doping Agency code has an eight-year statute of limitations on doping charges, and yet the USADA decision strips Armstrong of his titles back to 1999. USADA maintains that Armstrong had a right to challenge their removal of this statute, but he turned it down when he refused arbitration.
They also say it’s his own fault because he lied.
Road.cc quotes the official response from the UCI:
The UCI is of the opinion that the Code is very clear in this respect: No action may be commenced against an Athlete or other Person for an anti-doping rule violation contained in the Code unless such action is commenced within eight (8) years from the date the violation is asserted to have occurred.
The Code does not provide for any possibility for an anti-doping organization to take away from the athlete or other person the benefit of this clause.
It’s interesting to see that USADA didn’t hesitate for a second to throw the rule book out the window in order to get the result it wanted. Isn't that exactly what they've accused Armstrong of doing?
Ironic, isn’t it?