Editor's note: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of the seven cycling titles that made him a legend. The decision follows this month's finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that there is "overwhelming" evidence that Armstrong was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program."
[Updated as 1:43 p.m. ET] An insurance company that covers the performance bonus for Lance Armstrong says it wants all of the money paid to the cyclist returned.
SCA Promotions said it "is considering all legal options to pursue a return of the funds paid."
"Mr. Armstrong is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France races and, as a result, it is inappropriate and improper for him to retain any bonus payments made by SCA."
The BBC has estimated the total amount is $7.5 million.
[Updated as 8:44 a.m. ET] Another day, another sponsor breaking from Lance Armstrong.
The fallout from the cyclist's doping accusations has forced another sponsor to jump ship. This time, it is Oakley. Last week Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the cancer charity Livestrong. Then he was stripped of his sponsorships with Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
"When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility," the company said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest. We believe the Livestrong Foundation has been a positive force in the lives of many affected by cancer and, at this time, Oakley will continue to support its noble goals."
[Updated at 7:54 a.m. ET] We've gotten a copy of the press release from the cycling body that explains its decision on Lance Armstrong as well as its reaction to the doping report.
The International Cycling Union said after reading the doping report it was clear that all members of the U.S. Postal Service team, which Armstrong was a part of, 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."
The group goes on to say that these investigations have forced riders to confront the truth about 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," the statement says. " 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."
Read more of the group's statement here (PDF)
"Today's young riders do not deserve to be branded or tarnished by the past or to pay the price for the Armstrong era," the press release continues.
[Updated at 7:41 a.m. ET] So will the big blow to Armstrong wake up the rest of the cycling community with regard to doping? Can we expect to see a massive change and a doping-free sport?
International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid isn't quite ready to go that far.
"I don't think in any aspect of society there are no cheats," he said. "I do believe that doping can be hugely reduced."
The keys are education programs and how teams are structured, he said.
[Updated at 7:41 a.m. ET] "Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten from cycling," McQuaid said.
For a man who has been at the top of the mountain in this sport, this is quite a long and brutal fall.
What do you think? Vote in the poll below if you think the cycling body made the right decision and tell us what you think in the comments below.
[Updated at 7:37 a.m. ET] A bit of explanation here. The cycling agency has said it will not appeal any decisions to the Court of Arbitration regarding the dossier on doping. Instead the group moved directly and stripped Armstrong of his titles.
That means this is all said and done. His titles are gone forever.
[Updated at 7:30 a.m. ET] There's only one word that describes how International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid felt after reading the doping report on Armstrong: "Sickened."
Despite the Armstrong blow being a major blight on the sport of cycling, McQuaid emphasized that "cycling has a future."
[Updated at 7:26 a.m. ET] "Huge." "Inevitable." "Shocking." "Sad." "Depressing."
Those are the first words being used to describe the reaction to Lance Armstrong being stripped of his titles on Twitter.
[Updated at 7:11 a.m. ET] The damage to Lance Armstrong's reputation is massive.
First he stepped down as chairman of the cancer charity Livestrong. Then he was stripped of his sponsorships with Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
Now the former seven-time Tour de France winner has been banned from the sport for life. Fourteen years of his career are officially wiped from the record books.
[Updated at 7:08 a.m. ET] The news is the ultimate blow for the cyclist.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid says.
Will anything change after disgrace?
[Updated at 7:05 a.m. ET] The International Cycling Union has stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles because of the conclusion he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Highlights of the Armstrong report
"This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads and has had to begin anew. ... It will do so again with vigor," International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid says.
[Posted at 6:56 a.m. ET] The International Cycling Union, the sport's governing body, is set to rule on the agency's recommendation that Armstrong be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
His reputation already in tatters after a lifetime ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Armstrong finds out Monday whether he will be scrubbed from the record books for the seven feats that made him a cycling legend.
The USADA found "overwhelming" evidence that he was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program."
The agency then announced it would ban Armstrong from the sport for life and strip him of his results dating from 1998. The decision wiped out 14 years of his career.
Should the International Cycling Union concur with the USADA's recommendation, it will be up to the organizers of the Tour de France whether it will nominate alternate winners for the 1999-2005 tours. The Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs the 21-day event, has said it will decide after the ruling.
cheaters never prosper. good riddance to nancy armstrong!!
Now, perhaps, this will end all of this nonsense by those who still believe Lance is innocent.
Obviously, he is NOT.
Rachel, how many times did he test positive?
Lawless4U. Didn't he test positive for steroid use but the ICU let him off after he produced a backdated doctor's not? And also, if you read the report, you'll discover the tactics they used at the time to avoid testing positive.
I can't stop farting.
I thought I was the only one.
There it is!
i am sorry, but it still seems like a witch hunt, someone doesn't like this man and has gone to great lengths to destroy him, it still doesn't seem right to me
And the evidence...?
The French. Who else?
you going through a period of classic denial.
'Witch hunt' 'bullies' 'haters'. Why do people object to the truth being uncovered these days and instead resort to using these childish labels?
Thank God this is over almost 10 years of accusations next news please.
What is the POINT? No one's going to even WANT the medals at this point...Leave the man alone.
accept the truth and lets move on
if you are going to do something do it right Lance. #nohonorincheating
Does anyone really care? Armstrong will still go down in history as the greatest cyclist ever. Ive been road racing myself, met Lance Armstrong and other great professional cyclist. He will always be respected in my mind.
Greatest cyclist ever? Don't make me laugh. He's not even the greatest American cyclist. Before he started doping, his highest finish in the Tour de France was #36, an hour and a half behind the leader. Even his manager, Johan Bryneel, finished above him. Lance wasn't a climber. He was a great road racer, and even won a couple of stages over flat ground, but he got killed on the hills. Until Dr. Ferrari entered the story.
Even if he was clean he was nowhere near the best cyclist ever. Guys like Hinault, Indruian, Merckx were way better. Lance was a one trick pony who focused only on the Tour de France and needed the strongest team ever all working for him to win. Those others could win on their own if needed and dominated the year round cycling circuit. Even if he were clean as apple pie nobody outside the U.S would have ever considered him the best ever, barely top 10. Now that he is a convicted doper though he isnt even top 100 all time.
I'm sure he wasn't the only one.
Sort of sad when you realize that without doping he didn't stand a chance to win because all the rest of the field that had any chance of winning were also doping.
Now go after his doctors and money..
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