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UCI backs Armstrong ban

Updated: 2012-10-23 10:46

GENEVA - Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life on Monday after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) sanctions against the American.

UCI backs Armstrong ban

Then Discovery Channel team rider Lance Armstrong of the US drinks from his bottle as he cycles in a breakaway up a Pyrenees mountain pass during the 205km (127 miles) 15th stage of the 92nd Tour de France cycling race between Lezat-sur-Leze and St-Lary-Soulan in this July 17, 2005 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

The decision effectively destroyed Armstrong's last hope of clearing his name after he was exposed as a drug cheat, triggering a wave of condemnation and legal threats.

A Texas promotions company that paid out millions of dollars in bonuses to Armstrong said it wanted its money back while Sunglasses maker Oakley announced it was ending its sponsorship of the disgraced American.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it understood the UCI's decision to ban Armstrong while USADA called for a full and independent investigation into professional cycling.

"It is important to remember that while today is a historic day for clean sport, it does not mean clean sport is guaranteed for tomorrow," USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said.

UCI president Pat McQuaid conceded cycling was in crisis but said no-one should feel any sympathy for Armstrong, a cancer survivor whose fairytale rise to the top has been shattered by revelations of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling," McQuaid told a news conference. "I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report."

McQuaid, who was criticized for his and the UCI's handling of the affair, pledged to do more to clean up the tainted sport but said he would not be standing down from his position.

"Cycling has a future. This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew," he said.

"I am sorry we couldn't catch every damn one of them red handed and throw them out of the sport."  

McQuaid said the UCI would meet on Friday to discuss whether Armstrong would have to repay any prizemoney he earned or whether his titles would be re-awarded to other cyclists.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme had said no other riders should be given the titles because doping was so widespread in the peloton at the time but McQuaid said that was a matter for the UCI to decide.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would take its time to digest the news amid suggestions that Armstrong could be stripped of his 2000 Sydney Olympics time trial bronze.

UCI backs Armstrong ban

Lance Armstrong makes an appearance at the LIVESTRONG's 15th anniversary gala, his cancer-fighting charity in Austin, Texas, Oct 19, 2012 released to Reuters, on Oct 22, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

"We will study UCI's response to the USADA report and await to receive their full decision including further potential sanctions against Lance Armstrong as well as regarding any ramifications to his case," an IOC official said.

Dallas-based SCA Promotions said it had paid Armstrong around $12 million in bonuses and attorney fees for his Tour de France wins but the company's lawyer Jeffrey Dorough said he should have to pay back some of the money.

"Mr Armstrong is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France races, and as a result it is inappropriate and improper for him to retain any bonus payments made by SCA," Dorough said in a statement.

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