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German doper says American doper should be recorded as beating all the other dopers

German former pro cyclist Jan Ullrich, winner of the 1997 Tour de France, says that Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories should be restored.

Ullrich was Armstrong’s great rival during much of the American’s 1999-2005 run of Tour wins, and came second to him three times.

After the US Anti-Doping Agency found that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs through the entire period, he was stripped of all his victories, including his Tour wins.

“If it were up to me, I’d give Armstrong back his victories in the Tour,” Ullrich told German news magazine Bild.

Ullrich pointed out that it would not be the first time a Tour winner has had his title removed then restored. Bjarne Riis - now owner of the Riis Cycling team currently sponsored by Saxo Bank and Tinkoff Bank - had his 1996 victory stripped after he admitted doping, then restored a year later.

Riis and Ullrich were team-mates at the Telekom team at the time, and Ullrich’s support of Riis in that 1996 Tour saw him finish second overall. The following year the roles were reversed as Riis turned super-domestique and supported Ullrich to his only Tour win.

Both riders, most of their team-mates and just about every other significant pro cyclist of the era have since admitted doping.

“Bjarne Riis was given back his victory from 1996. That’s how things were at the time. It’s not helping anyone to have lines struck through the roll of honour.”

Acknowledging the issues of the time, the Tour de France organisers and cycling’s governing body the UCI have not nominated anyone as the winner of the Tours stripped from Armstrong.

Ullrich made it clear he does not want to be considered the winner of the Tours in which he was originally the nominal runner-up.

“I just want the victories that I obtained on the bike. I don’t want to win anything by default.”

Ullrich was one of the riders who came under suspicion in 2006 when Opercion Puerto uncovered the blood doping services provided by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

In June he admitted being a client of Fuentes.

“But I’d said that already a thousand times. There was nothing new in that,” he said.

When asked why he had not come clean about his use of performance-enhancing drugs before, Ullrich simply said: “I decided differently. In hindsight, perhaps I would have done some things differently. But I am no god that can see everything and do everything right.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

67 comments

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 2 years ago
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He's got a good point and I've said it before - you can't treat one person differently when they were all doing exactly the same thing!

I note that Erik Zabel recently confessed to doping throughout most of his career (having originally said it was only once in the late 90's) but there's been nothing announced about stripping him of his 6 green jerseys...

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

He's got a good point and I've said it before - you can't treat one person differently when they were all doing exactly the same thing!

I note that Erik Zabel recently confessed to doping throughout most of his career (having originally said it was only once in the late 90's) but there's been nothing announced about stripping him of his 6 green jerseys...

I agree, but I expect we may be in the minority.

Tin hats at the ready....

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step-hent [718 posts] 2 years ago
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Can't say I disagree with Ullrich here. That's how things were then; everyone needs to accept it and move on. The sport needs to focus on the here and now, on avoiding any possibility of another period like that, and on attracting sponsors and viewers to a clean, ethically governed sport that is learning from the mistakes of the past and not making them again.

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Noelieboy [87 posts] 2 years ago
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I concur, He has got a very good point.
If as it seems the whole peloton were doing it the titles should stand, maybe something in brackets next to the yearr like AD (After Doping)  1

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zeb [48 posts] 2 years ago
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Well Armstrong did not only cheat to his victory. He bullied those who dared to speak, he ruined the career of many, and sued others to oblivion. Let's not forget that.

Furthermore, customs change with times. What was acceptable before is not anymore. Otherwise, let's disband the WADA, the USADA and allow doping altogether. At least things would be clearer and if we do not mind seeing cyclists with cancers and heart attacks at 30, let's do that!

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cyclingsi [2 posts] 2 years ago
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"That’s how things were" Does not mean that it was right, cheating is still cheating even if most of the peloton was doing it.

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 2 years ago
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zeb wrote:

Well Armstrong did not only cheat to his victory. He bullied those who dared to speak, he ruined the career of many, and sued others to oblivion. Let's not forget that.

Furthermore, customs change with times. What was acceptable before is not anymore. Otherwise, let's disband the WADA, the USADA and allow doping altogether. At least things would be clearer and if we do not mind seeing cyclists with cancers and heart attacks at 30, let's do that!

Yeah, he was a bit more aggressive in his actions but the whole peloton, the managers and the doctors were all in on this, they did as much damage. Doctors administering "recovery" aids, managers telling riders they wouldn't have a career unless they doped, that was endemic for years before LA even showed up. The first races he/his team did, they got their arses handed to them on a plate - cos the rest of the field were doping!

So they just joined the party. Yes he was more vocal and aggressive than most thanks to his high profile (admittedly created by him as a miracle comeback story) but don't think for one minute that doping started or ended with LA or that he did anything the others weren't. He did it slightly better certainly but no differently.

I'm ambivalent about it - yes we need to move forward but airbrushing one character out of Tour history isn't really the way to go about it.

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kohakumark [22 posts] 2 years ago
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Ullrich pointed out that it would not be the first time a Tour winner has had his title removed then restored. Bjarne Riis - now owner of the Riis Cycling team currently sponsored by Katusha - had his 1996 victory stripped after he admitted doping, then restored a year later.

Mmmm Katusha, i dont think so!  39
Lets try Saxo Tinkoff  3

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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I would suggest the difference between Armstrong and all the others is that Armstrong's "donations" to the UCI meant the risk of discovery (geddit?) was less for him. To put it bluntly, everyone else was not bribing Hein and Pat. (Unless Jan knows something we don't...)

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 2 years ago
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Hmmm, so what punishment is there for doping?

The point of removing the titles is to expurgate the benefits if cheating, otherwise you're just saying its fine to dope if you get away with it at the time, and IT IS NOT OK! So what, in ten years time, we find out that all the other winners were doping we just forgive them and move on. The problem is that anti-doping is not effective and unless we have retrospective action then the pros won't think twice about doping.....look at this way, dopers dope to win, not come second, so there's the highest likelihood that the winners will be cheaters and unless you create the jeopardy of retrospective action then once they've won that's it. If you sow the seed of doubt about being caught it may just make the sport a cleaner place.

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mckechan [208 posts] 2 years ago
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I agree with Ullrich - his tour victory should be removed as well.

I think rules/retribution should be applied equally, but I understand why some people may feel different about Lance who had more than just one tour victory, he was the record multiple time winner and was high up on the list of stage victories too.

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Leviathan [1784 posts] 2 years ago
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I interpret this as 'I was just as dirty as Armstrong but still couldn't beat him.' Makes you wonder if a clean Armstrong would have beaten Ullrich or the next best clean rider anyway. Level playing field and all that. The crime is that we can never know. So is there any merit in having a blank space on wikipedia when we all know what happened. How about an asterix.

How about as new award Highest Documented Clean Rider.

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

How about as new award Highest Documented Clean Rider.

Might want to revise that to:
"Highest rider who, at time of writing, had not yet been caught"

 3

Quote:

I agree with Ullrich - his tour victory should be removed as well.

Either you strip every doper ever caught of ALL their victories or you just leave it alone. You can't try doing both. Can't strip LA of his but leave Pantani, Ullrich, Riis, Virenque, Zabel free to walk off.

Everyone or no-one. And if you're going to do the stripping victories thing, there's going to be one hell of a lot of blank pages in the next Tour history book...

[commentator]"And the stage winner is Cippolini, oh no, Zabel! Oh no, he was at it too. Err, Abdoujaparov! No. Bollocks. Err..."[/commentator]

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doc [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Ullrich can easily make statements now, in fact he had no idea of whether there were clean riders racing, and at this time interval all we have is his word that they were all at it, credible it may be but if it ever came to a court, no proof. Just circumstantial evidence and hearsay. No one is going to confess anyway if they don't have to. Best now let things stay as they are, Armstrong was picked out because of his 7 "wins" no doubt.
The era is gone, a few from then are left around, and perhaps the concentration would be better on those who are known offenders and remain in positions of influence. On the matter of bending the rules, there's a bloke in Aigle who started that years ago in South Africa!

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TeamCC [146 posts] 2 years ago
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It wouldn't be so bad to put Lance and other's names in the books. Have an asterisk next to their name. It looks really bad having so many top spots empty. If someone saw the 7 marked out section and didn't know about it they would look it up. Put Lance's name in there and it becomes less of a Streisand effect. Anyways, in a massive doping era, to come out top seven times is still amazing.

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monty dog [446 posts] 2 years ago
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This argument fails to acknowledge that some riders respond better to drugs than others plus Armstrong had access to 'treatments' few others can afford, notwithstanding he was paying-off the UCI and others to avoid being tested.

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millskid [44 posts] 2 years ago
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I agree with Ullrich, armstrong has been singled out in my opinion. Why does pantani still get to keep his titles, a massive doper. Bernard Hinault was caught doping 4 times I think and he was on the podium with froom!!!!!

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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Hinault? Four times?

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Leviathan [1784 posts] 2 years ago
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Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean? Indurain, Riis, Ullrich, Pantani, Armstrong, Landis, Contador, Rasmussen*. The post Armstrong era saw a lot of hand me down winners and everybody before is now know to be a doper. I don't know enough about the 60s-80s era but have heard about Lemond's doctors 'Iron booster injections.'

I am tempted to thing the sport has never been clean until now and the only way it has been cleaned up is because of new technological replacements for chemical boosters. At least technological methods are more honest and reward investment even if it is an equipment arms race. Of course the argument could be made that this is unfair to poorer nations; though it has seen benefits for British riders. It isn't F1 yet but the percentages are there to be had.

*Didn't get to the finish but was going to win.

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graham [17 posts] 2 years ago
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Striking a line through Armstrongs victories in the TdF will achieve nothing. Has achieved nothing. In the minds of cyclists, he will always be the rider who finished first in the TdF more times than anyone else in history. "But he doped", they will say, and that's true.

SO DID EVERYONE ELSE.

So it was a level playing field. He simply was either a better cyclist, trained harder, was better supported, or responded better to the drugs than others.

I applaud and wholeheartedly agree that the sport should be drug free, and hopefully it is. Or maybe current riders have better technology and are better able to hide doping, or perhaps there are new potions that aren't (currently) illegal? It doesn't matter. Any advantage an individual has will be short-lived.

Anti-doping organisations are needed if only to protect the rides from themselves and their doctors, and their work should continue. But a big line should be drawn under the doping era of professional cycling, and people should accept it happened, and move on.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Ullrich is a dick and his comments should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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graham wrote:

Striking a line through Armstrongs victories in the TdF will achieve nothing. Has achieved nothing. In the minds of cyclists, he will always be the rider who finished first in the TdF more times than anyone else in history. "But he doped", they will say, and that's true.

SO DID EVERYONE ELSE.

So it was a level playing field. He simply was either a better cyclist, trained harder, was better supported, or responded better to the drugs than others.

I applaud and wholeheartedly agree that the sport should be drug free, and hopefully it is. Or maybe current riders have better technology and are better able to hide doping, or perhaps there are new potions that aren't (currently) illegal? It doesn't matter. Any advantage an individual has will be short-lived.

Anti-doping organisations are needed if only to protect the rides from themselves and their doctors, and their work should continue. But a big line should be drawn under the doping era of professional cycling, and people should accept it happened, and move on.

It was NOT "a level playing field" (How many times?). Different people react differently to drugs, and Armstrong had the UCI in his corner.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean? Indurain, Riis, Ullrich, Pantani, Armstrong, Landis, Contador, Rasmussen*. The post Armstrong era saw a lot of hand me down winners and everybody before is now know to be a doper. I don't know enough about the 60s-80s era but have heard about Lemond's doctors 'Iron booster injections.'

I am tempted to thing the sport has never been clean until now and the only way it has been cleaned up is because of new technological replacements for chemical boosters. At least technological methods are more honest and reward investment even if it is an equipment arms race. Of course the argument could be made that this is unfair to poorer nations; though it has seen benefits for British riders. It isn't F1 yet but the percentages are there to be had.

*Didn't get to the finish but was going to win.

Why do you think the sport is clean now? This year's Giro seems to indicate otherwise.

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graham [17 posts] 2 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:

It was NOT "a level playing field" (How many times?). Different people react differently to drugs, and Armstrong had the UCI in his corner.

As I said - maybe he "responded better to the drugs," but I sincerely don't think this is a consideration. If no-one took drugs, you'd find some riders were better than others simply because of their physiology. That's the nature of athletes. The drugs have tilted the scales in favour of those taking them.

Did the UCI only turn a blind eye to Armstrong, or were samples from other riders 'processed' similarly? I think they must have been. Armstrong may have held more sway with the UCI, but that was probably as much a tactical decision as anything that happened during a race. Other riders could have benefited in the same way, had they approached the 'problem' of the UCI differently, and may have benefited as a result of Armstrong's interaction anyway.

I'm not defending Armstrong. He cheated. But (leaving aside his unprecedented success) let's please try to maintain a little perspective - it is likely (almost to the point of certainty) that everyone was cheating. Armstrong was more successful than most, and as such has been made a scapegoat. If you only follow mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking he was on superman drugs and no-one else had ever taken as much as an aspirin. (OK... I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.)

Are others going to have their stored blood samples retested? It has been asked, but there's no indication it will happen. Will others, who are absolutely, categorically and definitely KNOWN to have doped be stripped of their titles? Were they reacting better to their drugs than their competitors, or were they the better cyclist on the day?

The playing field was as level as it could be. The punishments are not being delivered in the same manner.

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GerardR [117 posts] 2 years ago
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Wouldn't this just reward the non-doping, even if they were a minority? I think that restoring the titles would dishonour the courage of those who spoke out.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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graham wrote:

The punishments are not being delivered in the same manner.

And who's fault is that? If Armstrong had accepted USADA's authority in the matter of his doping, the worst he could have got was a two year ban. He just withdrew from the process, and continued lying, receiving a life ban for his trouble.
The punchline is that this enables his remaining supporters to claim victimisation.

And if doping is acceptable on the grounds that two wrongs make a right, should Landis and Contador have their TdFs reinstated? I don't hear anyone calling for that.

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700c [819 posts] 2 years ago
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It's certainly hypocritical of the powers-that-be to apply sanctions unequally -whether it's stripping results selectively, applying bans to some but not others, idolising French dopers but demonising American ones!

I am pleased to see more people coming round to this way of thinking, but when I dared to make this point last year in the wake of the Armstrong revelations, I was comprehensively shot down and accused of being some Armstrong 'fanboy'!

We need a whole truth and reconciliation process.

You either accept the capacity for dopers to repent, change and seek forgiveness, or you adopt complete zero tolerance. In light of the Armstrong vilification, it angers me to see Contador, a doper of the modern era, still competing.

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RussFar66 [14 posts] 2 years ago
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Give Them back to LA and draw a line under it all, and impose life time bans from now on  4

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 2 years ago
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700c wrote:

It's certainly hypocritical of the powers-that-be to apply sanctions unequally -whether it's stripping results selectively, applying bans to some but not others, idolising French dopers but demonising American ones!

I am pleased to see more people coming round to this way of thinking, but when I dared to make this point last year in the wake of the Armstrong revelations, I was comprehensively shot down and accused of being some Armstrong 'fanboy'!

We need a whole truth and reconciliation process.

You either accept the capacity for dopers to repent, change and seek forgiveness, or you adopt complete zero tolerance. In light of the Armstrong vilification, it angers me to see Contador, a doper of the modern era, still competing.

I think you are missing a massive point with Armstrong, and that is the hypocrisy with which he dominated the sport.

But ultimately I think what they have done is right. The biggest winner from doping is punished in the biggest way.

The argument about what to do with the other dopers is a different question. I'm sure they could retest all their blood tests and see if they come up with a negative result.....but that would be expensive. Like I keep saying, dopers dope to win, so it's likely that that not only is the first placed rider doped, but those he 'narrowly' beat also. Occassionally I think a rider might just shade a classic 'pain e aqua', but the conditions have to be just right.

If you make an example of an individual, and Armstrong is prime candidate (any winner is, which is why testing of a stage winner is mandatory), it dissuades people from doping. They say 'is it worth it, even if I get away with it now, later on I may get busted'. True, the likelihood of this increases the more they retrospectively test and bust winners of small events, but it dissuades the sort of orchestrated doping and dominance of Armstrong because once you stick you head over the parapet the more likely it is to be shot off.

I do think that in combination with the blood passport and the revalations of the last year riders are less keen to dope - performances have been more 'human' than in other years. But if seven years are left blank as a warning to cyclists then so be it.

The main problem with Armstrong is that he took so much dope we will never know what sort of rider he would have been post-cancer therapy, we know that he sucked before that though. His record as a pro in the peloton was risable - and evidence shows (Kimmage's report) that he was doping before he was diagnosed...in the year he was world champion no less. The boost of steroids and EPO created a monster - just like it did with Pantani. Perhaps all you can say is that other cyclists were not as ruthless in their doping. Armstrong was certainly not a climber by build, but yet achieved unthinkable performances going uphill.

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giobox [352 posts] 2 years ago
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graham wrote:
The Rumpo Kid wrote:

It was NOT "a level playing field" (How many times?). Different people react differently to drugs, and Armstrong had the UCI in his corner.

As I said - maybe he "responded better to the drugs," but I sincerely don't think this is a consideration. If no-one took drugs, you'd find some riders were better than others simply because of their physiology. That's the nature of athletes. The drugs have tilted the scales in favour of those taking them.

Did the UCI only turn a blind eye to Armstrong, or were samples from other riders 'processed' similarly? I think they must have been. Armstrong may have held more sway with the UCI, but that was probably as much a tactical decision as anything that happened during a race. Other riders could have benefited in the same way, had they approached the 'problem' of the UCI differently, and may have benefited as a result of Armstrong's interaction anyway.

I'm not defending Armstrong. He cheated. But (leaving aside his unprecedented success) let's please try to maintain a little perspective - it is likely (almost to the point of certainty) that everyone was cheating. Armstrong was more successful than most, and as such has been made a scapegoat. If you only follow mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking he was on superman drugs and no-one else had ever taken as much as an aspirin. (OK... I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.)

Are others going to have their stored blood samples retested? It has been asked, but there's no indication it will happen. Will others, who are absolutely, categorically and definitely KNOWN to have doped be stripped of their titles? Were they reacting better to their drugs than their competitors, or were they the better cyclist on the day?

The playing field was as level as it could be. The punishments are not being delivered in the same manner.

It really wasn't a remotely level playing field at all. Thanks to the UCI's 50% hematocrit limit that was used due to no EPO test existing back then, it meant that riders with naturally low hematocrit levels were able to take more EPO than those riders who were naturally close to the limit. This is one of many reasons, the idea that all these dopers were competing equally is a myth that has been debunked countless times.

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