October 22, 2012
The Union Cycliste Internationale is set to announce its decision today on whether it supports the determination by the U.S. agency to ban the American cyclist from competition.
International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid will announce at a 7 a.m. EDT news conference whether the UCI will accept USADA’S decision to strip Armstrong of his Tour titles or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The UCI is the only group that can strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s “Reasoned Decision,” on Armstrong which was issued publicly without the cyclist’s side being aired, put the European sports governing body in a difficult position.
On the one hand, the UCI did all the testing surrounding the Tour de France, so the USADA’s report makes it look like they haven’t been doing their job. It also contradicts the UCI’s own procedures and rules, which state that a rider has to have a positive test results–which Armstrong has not. The evidence against him is simply verbal, and circumstantial.
Any decision against Armstrong would put the UCI in a difficult position–and the Tour de France organizers in an even more difficult position: how would they rename the winner behind him if that meant they had to dredge up all the previous drug tests from those dates for the riders in the fourth position? Assuming that is, that the riders in second were soundly tested.
Tour President Christian Prudhomme is awaiting the UCI’s decision, and said he will remove Armstrong’s name from the record books if the UCI takes away his titles.
Armstrong won the 21-stage French race from 1999-2005. Prudhomme said the Tour will have no official winners for those races if the UCI strips Armstrong of his wins.
On a fundamental issue, the USADA report throws into question the entire testing program for the major Tours.
But with the entire world practically turning against Armstrong in the past two weeks since the “Reasoned Report” was issued, including the loss of his major advertising partners such as Nike, the UCI may have no choice but to go with the flow.