The UCI has announced that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and has ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency's decision to ban the Lance Armstrong from sport for life and strip him of results dating back to 1998, including the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005. "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," insisted UCI President Pat McQuaid.
Announcement of the decision, which took place in a conference room in a hotel at Geneva airport, was immediately followed by a question and answer session with the press in which McQuaid looked increasingly uncomfortable as he was grilled about issue including allegations the UCI had helped cover up a suspect test by Armstrong, its decision to accept significant donations from the rider, and the UCI's determination to sue journalist Paul Kimmage for defamation.
McQuaid was also asked about Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong's former manager at US Postal, Astana and RadioShack, but pointed out he was unable to respond since the Belgian has elected for arbitration and the case is therefore stil open.
No decision has yet been made about potential reassignment of the seven Tour de France titles stripped from Armstrong. Race organisers ASO have said that the winner's name should be left blank from 1999-2005. McQuaid said that was an issue that woiuld be addressed at a UCI management committee meeting convened for Friday, which would also address other questions arising from the Armstrong scandal.
Some of the key quotes from McQuaid appear below, and the UCI's press release is also repeated, with its full decision attached at the end of this article.
In his opening statement:
- "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling"
Regarding those who have testimony to USADA:
- "UCI indeed thanks them for telling their stories"
Regarding the Padova investigation, including reports of Alexandre Vinokourov allegedly wiring money to Michele Ferrari:
- "We haven't got to this stage of looking for other stuff."
On his own record:
- “When I started as UCI president I made the fight against doping my priority."
Asked if he plans to step down:
- "I certainly have no intention of resigning."
Could such a scandal happen again?
- "These were different times. If we had the tools we have right, it would not have happened.”
On the UCI’s powers:
- "We don't have police powers. Now we can do more. We would have liked to be able to more out of competition tests. That has changed now."
Regarding the extent of doping that is now being uncovered:
- "I'm sorry we couldn't catch every single one of them redhanded and throw them out of the sport at the time."
Turning to specifics of the USADA report:
- "I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report. One thing springs especially to mind and that is Zabriskie."
On David Zabriskie’s testimony that he was coerced into doping (McQuaid added that he accepts the testimony is true):
Challenged on why he was focusing on 1998 to 2005 when USADA’s decision outlined doping by Armstrong after his return to the sport in 2009:
- "I don't accept the findings in 2009 and 2010."
Asked why the UCI rejected allegations from Floyd Landis in 2010:
- "We did listen to Landis back then."
Responding to suggestions of a conflict of interest at the UCI:
- "UCI doesn't see the need to separate governance of cycling and promotion of the sport."
Will cycling ever be drug-free?
- "I can't say cycling will be 100 per cent free of doping but it can be hugely reduced.
A Freudian slip:
- “Cycling has faced many crises in the future” [sic]
Regarding cyclists implicated in the Padova enquiry (details emerging from Italy plus the age of riders subject to other disciplinary proceedings this year suggest his assertion is wrong):
- "It's all older cyclists. Riders whose careers are already over."
On allegations that the UCI was complicit in covering up positive tests:
- "The UCI deny that any of Armstrong's positives were covered up."
Asked whether he, his predecessor Hein Verbruggen and the UCI would drop their action against Paul Kimmage:
- "It's a straight defamation case. He called us corrupt."
On the subject of Lance Armstrong’s controversial donations to the UCI – something McQuaid has accepted in the past was an error of judgment:
- "The UCI would take donations from riders again in the future."
The alternative to backing USADA was that the UCI would decide to appeal some or all of USADA's decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The governing body is itself implicated in USADA's Reasoned Decision, published earlier this month, in helping Armstrong cover up a suspect test for EPO during the 2001 Tour de Suisse.
Today's anouncement will not be the end of the scandal, with further investigations and action likely against a number of individuals whose names arose during USADA's investigation, inlcuding some whose names were redacted from the documentation relating to the case that it published earlier this month.
Armstrong himself appeared briefly at the start of his Livestrong charity's Challenge Ride in Austin, Texas this weekend to address the 4,000 cyclists taking part, but made no reference to USADA's sanctions, nor the impending decision of the UCI. Instead, he said that he had experienced a "very difficult" few weeks, as he had stated on Friday evening when making a speech to a gala dinner to celebrate the charity's 15th birthday.
The text of the UCI's press release appears below and its full decision can be downloaded as an attachment at the end of this article.
THE UCI RECOGNISES USADA DECISION IN ARMSTRONG CASE
The UCI has completed its review of USADA’s ‘Reasoned Decision’ and appendices in the case against Lance Armstrong.
The UCI considered the main issues of jurisdiction, the statute of limitation the evidence gathered by USADA and the sanction imposed upon Mr. Armstrong.
The UCI confirms that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that it will recognise the sanction that USADA has imposed.
The USADA decision explains how riders on the USPS Team showed no inclination to share the full extent of what they knew until they were subpoenaed or called by federal investigators and that their only reason for telling the truth is because the law required them to do so.
These riders have confronted their past and told their stories. Their accounts of their past provide a shocking insight into the USPS Team where the expression to ‘win at all costs’ was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion.
Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team. The UCI has always been the first international sporting federation to embrace new developments in the fight against doping and it regrets that the anti-doping infrastructure that exists today was not available at that time so as to render such evasion impossible.
Many of the USPS Team riders have already acknowledged that the culture of cycling has now changed and that young riders today are no longer confronted with the same choices to use performance enhancing drugs. They are right to do so.
The UCI has recognized the problem of doping within the sport and taken significant steps to confront the problem and to clean up cycling. Today’s riders are subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport. Cycling has been a pioneer in the fight against doping in sport under the leadership of the UCI and this role has been recognised by WADA.
Today’s young riders do not deserve to be branded or tarnished by the past or to pay the price for the Armstrong era. Cycling has a future and those who will define that future can be found among the young generation of riders who have chosen to prove that you can compete and win clean.
Riders who were caught doping continue to do the sport a disservice by protesting that the UCI refused to engage with them. The reality is that these riders never contemplated such action until they were found positive by the UCI, and even then they refused to confess and co-operate with the UCI.
Those riders who made the choice to stop using performance enhancing drugs, and to share their stories to enable the new generation of riders to learn from the mistakes that were made in the past, can continue to support clean cycling.
The role that training and education has to play in discouraging doping at all levels is well recognised by the UCI. The UCI will engage with any rider that is willing to work with them in the fight against doping and interested in establishing what lessons can be learned and applied to its ‘True Champion or Cheat?” programme which is obligatory for all riders subject to anti-doping tests.
This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew and to engage in the painful process of confronting its past. It will do so again with renewed vigor and purpose and its stakeholders and fans can be assured that it will find a new path forward.
That process extends beyond the UCI and the anti-doping agencies including WADA, USADA, AFLD and CONI must contribute to it by also examining how many times they tested Lance Armstrong and by providing their own explanation for why he never tested positive in the tests that they respectively conducted.
The UCI tested Tyler Hamilton 40 times and found him positive. It tested Floyd Landis 46 times and found him positive as the winner of the Tour de France. The list of riders that it has found positive does not end there.
The UCI has tested Lance Armstrong 218 times. If Lance Armstrong was able to beat the system then the responsibility for addressing that rests not only with the UCI but also with WADA and all of the other anti-doping agencies who accepted the results.
The UCI supports WADA’s decision to create a working group to examine ‘The Ineffectiveness of the Fight Against Doping in Sport’ and proposes that it commence its work by examining the effectiveness of the system in place to detect the use of performance enhancing substances in cycling.
The UCI is committed to reviewing the environment upon which the sport operates in order to ensure that something like this never happens again. It has convened a special meeting of its Management Committee on Friday, October 26th to begin the process of examining the existing structures and introducing changes to safeguard the future of cycling.
UCI Communications Service