Lance Armstrong is set to follow British fashion designer John Galliano in being stripped of his Legion d’Honneur medal, France’s highest civilian award. The disgraced cyclist had been made a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 2005, the year in which he won his seventh and last Tour de France title.
Francois Sourd, an aide to the grand chancellor of the order, which was instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, confirmed to the Associated Press that the Legion d’Honneur would set up an investigation into the Texan as a result his confession of doping, reports Sports Illustrated.
"An inquiry will be opened to see if there is cause or not to take his Legion d’Honneur away from him," explained Monsieur Sourd. He added that Armstrong would be informed that the process had begun, and would be entitled to plead his defence if he so wished.
"When the newspapers started talking about this, we started to gather information," added Monsieur Sourd, who underlined that the investigation was only at "the initial stage" and that in the absence of a recommendation to take his medal away, Armstrong would be allowed to keep it.
While foreigners are not admitted to the order as such, they are allowed to receive its insignia, with Chevalier – Knight – being the most junior rank. Eddy Merckx was made a Commandeur of the Legion d’Honneur – the most senior of the three ranks – in 2011.
While the medal itself is only worn while in uniform or on formal occasions, holders are entitled to wear a red ribbon or rosette in their lapel – as Bernard Hinault is doing in this picture.
Galliano was stripped of his medal after being found guilty in September 2011 of having made anti-Semitic remarks in a Parisian café nine months earlier, which had led to his immediate dismissal as head designer at the fashion house, Dior.
On 24 August last year, France’s official journal published a decree signed by President Francois Hollande confirming that Galliano had been stripped of his medal.
Coincidentally, that was the very same day that the United States Anti Doping Agency announced that it was handing Armstrong a lifetime ban and disqualifying him from results including those seven Tour de France victories.
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.