The Fédération Française de Cyclisme (FFC) has said that it views Lance Armstrong's decision not to take the doping charges laid against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to arbitration as tantamount to a confession by the 40-year-old that he doped. It also says that the seven Tour de France titles Armstrong won between 1999 and 2005 should not be reassigned, and expressed the hope that the Texan repay some €2.95 million in prize money won in France.
The FFC's views are contained in a press release published today on its website in response to USADA's announcement last Friday that it had banned Armstrong from sport for life and disqualified him from all results obtained since 1 August 1998. That followed Armstrong's anouncemet late on Thursday that he was not seeking arbitration.
In its statement, the FFC said it had been closely following developments, that it "applauds the perseverance of USADA," and that "the refusal of Lance Armstrong not to contest USADA's accusations sounds as a recognition of his guilt with regard to the breaches of anti-doping regulations held against him dating back to 1998."
It went on: "This decision closes the 'black book' of a sombre period for interational cycling. It also demonstrates that the biggest athletes are not sheltered, even with a delay, from sporting sanctions related to breaches linked to the fight against doping.
"The [FFC] welcomes this very strong message sent to the cheats, one full of hope for the vast majority of riders who practise their sport cleanly."
Regarding the potential reassignment of the Tour de France titles won by Armstrong, the FFC said that it "wishes that the places left vacant subsequent to the disqualification of Armstrong should not be reassigned, thereby leaving the palmares of the Tour de France clean for seven years and avoiding any arguments regarding the credibility of potential winners."
It added that it hoped for the restitution by Armstrong of €2.95 million in prize money won at the Tour de France and other races, and that the money to be used to develop cycling at youth level and for anti-doping initiatives.
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.