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Dutch newspaper polls former champions – results show generational split

More than half of the winners of the Tour de France who are still alive believe that Lance Armstrong should be reinstated as winner of the seven editions of the race between 1999 and 2005.

All but two of the surviving 25 champions responded to a poll by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, which asked them whether the American, banned for life in 2012 and stripped of his seven victories, should have them given back to him, reports Telegraph.co.uk.

Tour de France organisers ASO now show a blank space in the list of winners of the race for the seven editions where Armstrong stood on the top step of the podium in Paris, declining to award the victories to the runners-up, almost all of whom have been sanctioned for doping at some point.

Among those who said Armstrong should be reinstated was Ireland’s Stephen Roche, who won the yellow jersey in 1987, the same year he won the Giro d’Italia and world championship.

He said: “Armstrong should stay on that list [of winners]. In the 100-year history of the race you can't not have a winner for seven years. Doping has been part of sport, not only for cycling, for decades. Who tells me Jacques Anquetil won clean? Should we take his victories away? Or why does Richard Virenque get to keep his polka dot jerseys?"

Older riders tended to believe that Armstrong should be given the titles back, while those who won the race more recently said he should not, including the winners of the last three editions – Cadel Evans, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, who said: "Those seven empty places symbolise an era. We should leave it like it is."

There were exceptions though, with Oscar Pereiro, champion in 2006, and Andy Schleck, awarded the 2010 victory when Alberto Contador was stripped of it in 2012, the only two winners from recent years to say that Armstrong should be viewed as winner of those seven editions.

Schleck said: “Who remembers who was second place in those races? I wouldn't know myself. You can't have seven races without a winner, so just leave Armstrong on the list."

Other riders who backed the former US Postal rider’s reinstatement included Felice Gimondi, Jan Janssen and Joop Zoetemelk, who said: "They should never have erased Armstrong from the list. You can't change results 10 years later. Of course it's not good what he did but you can't rewrite history."

Race director Christian Prudhomme made it clear that ASO would not be reconsidering its position. "You ask the people along the route," he explained. "It's clear, his name will not be on the list again. Period."

When in October 2012 former UCI president Pat McQuaid ratified the sanctions imposed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, he opened the press conference by saying, “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.”

He too seems to have changed his view, telling journalists at the Tour de France on Tuesday’s rest day, “I don't necessarily think the same now. Armstrong is the victim of a USADA witch hunt" – words used repeatedly by Armstrong’s own defence team until he finally confessed in January last year.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

50 comments

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oozaveared [933 posts] 1 year ago
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I am not a massive LA fan but I do think that probably most TdF winners have been dopers. Just because it was so endemic for so long. If you excluded everyone that doped it would be 50 or more blank titles.

I also believe that LA's rivals in all 7 were well at it or had been. So it probably was a level playing field.

Apart from that we all know who got the title so it's silly to just leave blanks.

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McVittees [48 posts] 1 year ago
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Wow, “I don't necessarily think the same now. Armstrong is the victim of a USADA witch hunt". Its scary to think these words are being used to describe the process of outing a person who later confessed to being guilty. I'm afraid that a few years down the line all will be forgiven, his sponsors will return, his titles will be reinstated and all the pain he caused people during his 'win at all costs' crusade will be forgotten.  2

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georgee [160 posts] 1 year ago
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Not much of a suprise, those who are more widely believed to have doped want him back, those who are trying not to be tarnished with doping do not.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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georgee wrote:

Not much of a suprise, those who are more widely believed to have doped want him back, those who are trying not to be tarnished with doping do not.

Indeed. No further questions m'Lud.

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graphite [63 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm with Froome and Wiggins etc - leave them blank. If Armstrong ends up doing time, while they're at it maybe they could find room for Pat McQuaid in his cell.  36

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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No I see it the other way... he is just as deserving to be on the list of winners as nearly everyone else there.

I think we all feel so strongly about Armstrong because he has been portrayed as a total bully and a control freak. Not only because he was a doper, he was a cnut as well.

I don't personally think thats fair. I'm not saying that it's not the case, only that no other convicted doper has had a complete character assassination through the press... I am sure if we looked in the cupboards of a load of ex-cyclists and dopers there would be loads of dark skeletons lurking.

So, to be objective, I remove all of the talk of his bullying etc and look at the crimes committed. In those cases, and based on the statue of limitations, he should be reinstated for all but his 2005 win.

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cat1commuter [1418 posts] 1 year ago
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The "Lance Armstrong: Stop at Nothing" documentary, which I recently watched on BBC4, reminded me why I dislike Lance so much. In addition to his doping, he went after people who spoke out against him, for example spreading insinuations that Emma O'Reilly was a whore and a drunk and setting his lawyers on her. If he was singled out and a "witch hunt" led against him, he fully deserves it

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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So does Andy think still view Bertie as being the winner of his TDF, leaving Andy in 2nd?

Also, what the cracking hell is Pat McQuaid doing still hanging round the tour?

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mzungu [40 posts] 1 year ago
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The greater crime is if the removal of the winner means cycling feels it has a clear conscience. It KNEW it was corrupt. It didn't do enough.

A poor example - look at Turing, the government gives the guy a posthumous pardon and suddenly feels it can reject all blame for the terrible treatment it dished out to the guy.

Armstrong was a cheat. That's bad. LOADS of people in cycling knew it and did nothing. That does not go away just because Armstrong has been nabbed.

The slate has not been wiped clean.

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mattsccm [324 posts] 1 year ago
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I assume that all of those who are against LA keeping the title also are happy to erase those previous holders who have a chequered history. Didn't Merckx get pulled for drugs? Anqetuil openly condoned such a thing. Lets ban him as well. Also its totally illogical to lump LA's drug taking along with other facets of his character. Bullying if thats what it is, is a different issues and there are two side to that story.
Actually it is totally incorrect to say that there was no winner in the Armstrong years. He was the first over the line . That's what a winner is. You can't have buts . He won.

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James Warrener [1080 posts] 1 year ago
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Truly embarrassing and a massive backward step for the sport, let alone a PR disaster.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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mattsccm wrote:

I assume that all of those who are against LA keeping the title also are happy to erase those previous holders who have a chequered history. Didn't Merckx get pulled for drugs? Anqetuil openly condoned such a thing. Lets ban him as well. Also its totally illogical to lump LA's drug taking along with other facets of his character. Bullying if thats what it is, is a different issues and there are two side to that story.
Actually it is totally incorrect to say that there was no winner in the Armstrong years. He was the first over the line . That's what a winner is. You can't have buts . He won.

Back in Anqetuil's day, there weren't strict rules on doping. He had other issues though. Have you read the biography about him?

Armstrong was proven to have won with chemical assistance when this was most definitely not allowed. We don't know for sure all his competitors were doping; only some of them. It's different.

Keep it blank.

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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But we do know most of them were doping... they got busted before he did.

That's the real reason those tours are blank... its because no one else can realistically be called the winner above armstrong.

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daveygftm [10 posts] 1 year ago
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Yes ,drugs have no place in our sport .
No matter what you think ,or say , he did drugs ,but he still got over the mountains and hills and route before anyone else who were allegedly on drugs .Period.
If your not first your last .

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Leviathan [1784 posts] 1 year ago
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Lance Armstrong causes Global Warming.

We all know who 'won' those tours, says more about the respondents. Andy doesn't mind giving them back but Alberto does? Obviously Contador was one of the Non-respondents, but very strange comments from Schleck. He finished second three times in a row but says who remembers second place? He was given his tour in retrospect, perhaps the blank spaces undermine his own win; should he be demoted to second after Blank for 2010?

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thegibdog [102 posts] 1 year ago
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notfastenough wrote:

So does Andy think still view Bertie as being the winner of his TDF, leaving Andy in 2nd?

He's basically said as much in the past. Tells us a lot about Schleck's position on doping.

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leqin [155 posts] 1 year ago
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50% of the people I work with think that bicycles should be banned from all roads - all roads. I know because I asked them today when I read a news article about something Carlton Read is going to talk about over some group who claim to represent car drivers - so should we ban all bicycles from UK roads, because 50% of people apparently think it would be a good idea.

And at risk of having some nut job screaming Godwins Law - why don't we cut Hitler a bit of slack - today Hitler suffers terribly being made the butt of endless jokes through cut up chunks of his wonderful film by ignorant oiks on YouTube -all he wanted was a little breathing space for christsake - isn't much to ask for and all we do is treat him as if he was the most horrible human being ever born and I am quite certain that if you asked 100% of people who belong to any fascist or nazi style group whether or not we should celebrate Hitlers ever existing then you will get over 50% saying yes we should.

Lance Armstrong cheated. Lance Armstrong tried to and, in some cases, succeeded in threatening people in order to cover up his dishonesty. Lance Armstrong only needs to do one thing for cycling - piss off and never come back.

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Beaufort [270 posts] 1 year ago
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By the time Armstrong has his titles back officially, they'll be the least of his worries. He's going to be put though the mincer in American courts, will have nothing left. He even had to sell his private jet !

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pwake [374 posts] 1 year ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:
mattsccm wrote:

I assume that all of those who are against LA keeping the title also are happy to erase those previous holders who have a chequered history. Didn't Merckx get pulled for drugs? Anqetuil openly condoned such a thing. Lets ban him as well. Also its totally illogical to lump LA's drug taking along with other facets of his character. Bullying if thats what it is, is a different issues and there are two side to that story.
Actually it is totally incorrect to say that there was no winner in the Armstrong years. He was the first over the line . That's what a winner is. You can't have buts . He won.

Back in Anqetuil's day, there weren't strict rules on doping. He had other issues though. Have you read the biography about him?

Armstrong was proven to have won with chemical assistance when this was most definitely not allowed. We don't know for sure all his competitors were doping; only some of them. It's different.

Keep it blank.

I don't see how it's different when you say only some of his competitors were doping. Are you saying that all of Anquetil's competitors were doping or do you believe that only a select few riders in the LA era decided to take an, as of that time, undetectable drug with very noticeable performance benefits?
Until Travis Tygart decided that, as Lance was an Atheist, his divine mission was to protect current US athletes from harm by pursuing offences over a decade old, in a sport that already has the most thorough anti-doping controls; then the only 'clean' i.e. not caught rider to podium in those seven years was Lance himself.
Check this out:
http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/20-out-of-21-tdf-podium-finisher...

I think it's strange to have no winner for those years but it's just a political exercise and, ultimately, it's just a list that will fade into time. If anyone asked me who won those Tours I'd have to answer "Lance Armstrong".

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andyp [1436 posts] 1 year ago
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'I think we all feel so strongly about Armstrong because he has been portrayed as a total bully and a control freak.'

He's been *portrayed* as that? So he never did any of it? Get your head out of the sand.

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 1 year ago
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I think part of the problem about Armstrong is that the scientific aspect of his wins seems so large. Evidence suggests that Armstrong was a regular pro-peloton doper before his cancer (Betsy Andreu's bedside comments withstanding) and at that point he was just an ordinary rider in the scheme of things. Basically by pushing the envelope of drug taking he won seven titles. It's not just that he doped, but the extent to how he doped - he would otherwise have been a nobody, an also-ran. So you cannot tell me that he was just like all the others. What he did probably risked his and other peoples lives.

We could also go on about self-serving lies, manipulation and bullying but that's just the nasty side of LA.....

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

I think part of the problem about Armstrong is that the scientific aspect of his wins seems so large. Evidence suggests that Armstrong was a regular pro-peloton doper before his cancer (Betsy Andreu's bedside comments withstanding) and at that point he was just an ordinary rider in the scheme of things. Basically by pushing the envelope of drug taking he won seven titles. It's not just that he doped, but the extent to how he doped - he would otherwise have been a nobody, an also-ran. So you cannot tell me that he was just like all the others. What he did probably risked his and other peoples lives.

We could also go on about self-serving lies, manipulation and bullying but that's just the nasty side of LA.....

I've been watching the Armstrong Lie - not finished yet - but one of the things that I'm not quite buying is his statement that they began doping as a group because they were getting comprehensively kicked by other teams, week in week out, while he was wearing the rainbow jersey. So, you won the Worlds clean, but get routinely battered every week? What, the rest of the peloton thoughts the Worlds wasn't worth doping for?

At the time, I was kind of on the fence with regards Lance, but it was nothing to do with denials or "never failed a test" etc. In those 7 tour wins, he never crashed, never had a mechanical (other than punctures or whatever), everything was so organised, these guys were into marginal gains before it was trendy. Contrast that with how amateur many teams are reputed to be, and the potential gap seemed vast. Then incidents like Joseba Beloki crashing and Lance just sucking it up and coming out the other side after a spell of mountain biking just seemed to illustrate that actually, this guy really can ride a bike. Ho hum, hindsight and all that.

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JeevesBath [156 posts] 1 year ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

I think part of the problem about Armstrong is that the scientific aspect of his wins seems so large. Evidence suggests that Armstrong was a regular pro-peloton doper before his cancer (Betsy Andreu's bedside comments withstanding) and at that point he was just an ordinary rider in the scheme of things. Basically by pushing the envelope of drug taking he won seven titles.

But if he was just a mediocre rider previously, why did his team choose him to be the 'the one'? If your objective is to win as much as possible, surely enhancing an already good rider would be more likely to produce the results (while also drawing less suspicion). Was Pantani a brilliant rider who didn't know the right drugs? If so, why wasn't he getting the advice that Armstrong got instead.
The truth is, nobody knows what constituted a level playing field or to what level people were being chemically assisted in those days.

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andyp [1436 posts] 1 year ago
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'So, you won the Worlds clean'

No. No he didn't.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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I'd love to be a mediocre also ran if mediocre also ran meant being a national triathlon champion as a teenager and clocking up a few decent wins including a Tour stage in my early 20s.

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pwake [374 posts] 1 year ago
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 13

farrell wrote:

I'd love to be a mediocre also ran if mediocre also ran meant being a national triathlon champion as a teenager and clocking up a few decent wins including a Tour stage in my early 20s.

It's that Colin bloke showing his ignorance again; last week he thought Dave Brailsford was a Director Sportif.
Oi, Colin. Do some research!

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Kadenz [78 posts] 1 year ago
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That tells you all you need to know about their attitude to drugs.

And the fact that it was the most recent winners - Evans, Wiggo and Froome - who don't think Armstrong should be given those titles back suggests that some progress is being made in the anti-doping war. Well done to them.

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ch [168 posts] 1 year ago
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The attitude part of the war on doping may be at high tide, but the technical part of being able to detect EPO usage is not. Micro dosing can still be used without detection. Micro dosing just enough to prevent hemoglobin levels from falling during the tour (as would be natural) would not trigger a blood passport alert.
I am not accusing anybody but think this technical problem should be addressed.

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

I've been watching the Armstrong Lie - not finished yet - but one of the things that I'm not quite buying is his statement that they began doping as a group because they were getting comprehensively kicked by other teams, week in week out, while he was wearing the rainbow jersey. So, you won the Worlds clean, but get routinely battered every week? What, the rest of the peloton thoughts the Worlds wasn't worth doping for?

That's actually backed up by Emma O'Reilly's book and by various other snippets of information. American cycling was nowhere close to what the Europeans were doing at that time - not even on the radar. So while good Americans could win races clean (or by buying off their opponents which is an accusation levelled at Lance in one of his early domestic US victories), you'd go to Europe and while it's easy enough to survive a One Day Classic or a few days Tour clean, it becomes a different kettle of fish when you do a 3-week race and Europeans and especially the eastern-bloc countries have relatively advanced doping programmes, you're clean and you get your arse handed to you.

Doping doesn't make you fast - I mean I could take all the EPO and blood transfusions going, I'd still be shit. What it does allow you to do is train much harder and recover much better, it's that which makes you fast. The rider still needs to put the work in and have the raw talent and ability to make it count.

LA was obviously extremely talented (in much the same way that Pantani was obviously a superb climber way before he started doping) but more than that, LA was lucky. 7 Tours and no major crashes or injuries or illness is incredible when you look at it recently and see how easy it is for favourites (Wiggins/Vinokourov in 2011, Froome/Contador in 2014) to crash out or otherwise get injured (Geraint Thomas riding with a fractured pelvis for example). And luck counts for an awful lot, especially in one-day races which are far less predictable than a 3-week Tour.

Removing Lance's titles was a political thing - there's no other explanation for it when you also have people like Riis still in there as a winner and still managing a team. I'm not sure that the argument about reinstating them actually achieves much. I don't mind LA as a person at all actually, what bugs me is the fact that cycling refuses to move on - it all comes back to Lance this, Lance that and the legacy of mistrust that he's left - every stage win pored over, every performance looked at for evidence of doping. It's taken away the spectacle of the sport.

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Esper [6 posts] 1 year ago
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Lance was quite happy to portray himself as 'Cycling Jesus' and pity those who couldn't believe.

Well, just like Jesus he's now being made a scapegoat for the sins of professional cycling.

It's all very poetic.

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