Cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), has agreed to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life.
UCI President Pat McQuaid announced on Monday that the federation accepted the US Anti-Doping Agency’s report on Armstrong and would not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
McQuaid said: “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.”
On what he called a “landmark day for cycling”, McQuaid said that Armstrong had been stripped of all results since 1 August, 1998 and banned for life.
The Irishman, who became president of UCI in 2006, said he would not be resigning before adding: “I’m sorry that we couldn’t catch every damn one of them red-handed and throw them out of the sport at the time.”
The decision clears the way for Tour de France organisers to officially remove Armstrong’s name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race will go along with what cycling’s governing body decides and will have no official winners for those years.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling. This is a landmark day for cycling.”
– UCI chief Pat McQuaid
Usada released a 1,000-page report earlier this month which included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and the doping activities of its members.
USADA said Armstrong should be banned and stripped of his Tour titles for “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen” within his US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.
The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong.
Armstrong denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests.
But he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency’s arbitration hearings , arguing the process was biased against him.
Former Armstrong team director Johan Bruyneel is also facing doping charges, but he is challenging the USADA case in arbitration.
Armstrong could still face further sports sanctions and legal challenges. Armstrong could lose his 2000 Olympic time-trial bronze medal and may be targeted with civil lawsuits from ex-sponsors or even the US government.
McQuaid said the UCI’s board will meet Friday to discuss the OIympic issue and whether to update other race results due to Armstrong’s disqualifications.
The IOC said in a statement it would study the UCI’s response and wait to receive their full decision.
“It is good to see that all parties involved in this case are working together to tackle this issue,” the IOC said.
Armstrong’s astonishing return from life-threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story that transcended the sport.
However, his downfall has ended “one of the most sordid chapters in sports history,” USADA said in its 200-page report published two weeks ago.
Armstrong has consistently argued that the USADA system was rigged against him, calling the agency’s effort a “witch hunt.”
On Sunday Armstrong spoke briefly to some 4,300 cyclists at the Livestrong Challenge charity benefit, a 100-mile race in his hometown of Austin, Texas.
“I’ve been better but I’ve also been worse,” said Armstrong. “Obviously it has been an interesting and difficult couple of weeks.”
Since the USADA report, sponsors have fled Armstrong and he was forced to resign as chairman of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997 over concerns his tarnished reputation could hurt the cause.