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.
Lance still beat all the others and all the other top riders were deoping as well.
At first I admit this looked like a witch hunt.I couldn't understand how someone who had been thru so much could sit by while these allegations continued. I don't see how his no contest approach could be anything else but a surrender of guilt. This man has clearly done more good than harm in this world, and I hope one day he will tell the world the truth. As hard as that may be, it is the only way to clear ones conscience. Good luck Lance, we'll all be watching.
All Mr Armstrong did was refuse to participate in a Kangaroo Court that had decided he was guilty and nothing he did was going to help. All it would do is to give the USADA more grandstanding time. Remember, he has been fighting these allegations for more than a decade.
Really, prison time. Lighten up, Francis (Peg).
Guess they caught the witch, so good for the witch hunt.
Kinda like that "Witch Hunt" for Osama Bin Laden, right? After all, he was never found guilty of any crimes in court ...
Maybe we should just murder lance? Oh I forgot, the USADA did that only because they knew he didn't want to continue pouring millions into legal battles.
Lewis Black brought up a good point a few nights ago on the Daily Show. Lance is possibly the best endurance athlete in the world, he gets twice the oxygen out of every breat he takes that a healthy 20 year old gets, his heart beats move twice as much blood, his muscles can go longer and harder and recover faster. What the heck was he taking and where can I get some?
It is called training training and more training. He has been cycling since age 16 and I bet as a child he was doing the same thing. He trained his body and was a great athlete. But in today's climate if one stand outs or is extraordinary one "must have cheated". It is the nature of socialism – not one can be greater than anyone else.
The issue of using "illegal" drugs, i.e. breaking the laws of a state or country, are wholly separate from the issue of using "banned" substances in a sports event, i.e. breaking the rules of the game. If a grand jury does not believe that there is enough evidence to indict him on a charge of illegal drug use, then that too is wholly separate from the sanctioning body of the professional cycling believing that it has enough evidence to prove that he broke the rules.
In this case, it is the UCI, the sanctioning body of pro cycling, who weighs the evidence. Lance had a chance to make his case to USADA, and therefore, by proxy, to the UCI, but he chose not to do so. A figurative analogy would be that he entered a plea of "nolo contendere," which left the UCI with only the testimonies and affidavits given to it by USADA. Considering that Lance refused to formally answer the charges, the UCI had to rule based only on the testimony and affidavits it had. As such, it is no surprise that the UCI ruled as it did.
If he is guilty of doping, then screw him: ban him for life, take his wins away, and make him pay back all of the prize money he thieved. If he isn't guilty, then he should have formally fought to prove his innocence.
The USADA was running a Kangaroo Court – they only wanted one thing of Mr Armstrong and that was a confession of guilt – even though he has consistently been cleared for more than a decade of accusation after accusation. It was useless for him to participate.
My question is what, excactly const.itutes doping? Would taking legal energy enhancers you can buy at any vitamin shop or having shots of B-Complex equal "doping"? My observation is that stripping Armstrong wont stop "doping" in Any sport! It is as interwoven w/the sports world as the implements of the particular sport! I've known many amateur sports people & body builders in my life & they All took supplements to increase energy & stamina! If any1 thinks this will erradicate the use or deter any1 in any sport from "doping," they are naive! Armstrong has been made an "example," meanwhile the thousands of amateur & professional cyclists around the world will continue to "dope"! Nothing has been accomplished w/this "doping" hunt, except strip a man of his ti.tles for doing excactly what every1 else was doing!!
Let's be fair. Apply the same amount of investigative zeal to all cyclists. If PED's were so pervasive...how many athletes were competing fairly? Does the entire sport need to relinquish it's records for this era?
Maybe the same could be said for baseball.
Don't forget the NFL. Recall the Steelers players who testified that the ENTIRE Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl teams of the 80's were using steriods.
ALL OF THEM!
I think we all now know, as I knew then, that Jose Canseco was correct when he estimated 75% of MLB was juiced. Except, it was sports, including the golfers ...
It is a darned messy can of worms, to be sure. If the Société du Tour de France plans to give the wins to guys who came in second, or third, or fourth, who would get the respective wins? Many of the riders who came in second, third, or fourth in those races have also been associated, either directly or indirectly, with doping charges.
What is the difference between performance ehancing drugs and performance enhancing equipment?
Performance enhancing equipment is allowed by the respective sport's sanctioning body, and performance enhancing drugs are NOT allowed by the respective sport's sanctioning body.
It would be nice to see the "overwhelming evidence" due process was never given. Where are the checks and balances when the prosecution becomes the judge, jury and executioner?
Ha ha ha ... some of you are truly amazingly ignorant.
Let's see ... due process? Um, you do realize that charges were brought in our great Legal System to allow your hero to defend himself againest the hundreds of people who testified againest him, and all the scientists on the federal drug testing agencies.
Um ... you do realize your hero dropped his case ... uh, he said, despite being a multimillionarie, that he didn't want to spend his money to defend himself.
You people are real funny. How come we didn't hear anything about 'due process' with an athelete 100 times better than Lance, at a real sport: Barry Bonds.
Gee ... I think everyone on this blog knows why some defend Lance, but thought Barry was guilty.
@Sly: You're so clever with words. Why don't you tell us?
This fall from grace is a timely reminder of another great athelete who was subjected to a 'witch hunt'.
The difference between the Great Barry Bonds (Go Giants!), and Lance Armstrong is of course, Barry never tested positive.
There are similarities though ...
This is how i see it instead of dying from cancer ...he beat it and lived his dreams !! I'm with Lance !
KARMA! Sheryl Crow and his Ex-Wife are the bus drivers!
The man was and still is a liar and cheat, that so many approve of his actions in the pusuit not of just personal glory but multi millions of dollars al the while decieving an adoring public makes him no better than a Memmber of another group of men and women of same character, our elected and appointed officials.
HE KNEW THE RULES AND AGREED TO ABIDE BY THEM.
You mean to tell me that out of the thousands of times he had been tested (randomly mind you), he out smarted hundreds of officials? Do you realize how many people would have to conspire to pull this off? What motive would anyone want to be apart of ONE man's journey to the top of cycling (there is not that much money in cycling to share the wealth with all the alleged conspirators)? I digress....
Here is a reality check; boredom does not sell. You pay to see a baseball player hit the ball out of the park; you pay to see a football player run as fast as he can and knock the hell out of the opponent. And you pay (and watch) to see people ride bikes in damn near impossible conditions and win. What is the problem here? Armstrong brought in a ton of money for the SAME folks now banning him. IF you (Doping Agency, Tour de France, Nike et al.) are really sincere, give back all the money you made during the time Lance was racing! I do not get how Armstrong has been out of the TDF for years now and you're STILL going after him? All this symbolic banning crap hurts the credibility of the governing authorities because they have clearly said that ONE man was YEARS ahead of them in technology. Years after you are still testing a retired person. What is wrong with this picture? You can't call something illegal years after the fact (if it did happen). That is BS on so many levels. You can put together a fancy report but you cannot get past one thing: NO POSITIVE TEST. My question to the Doping Agency is this: were you incompetent then? Or are you incompetent now?
Lastly, in almost every occupation you are awarded for your imagination; you are praised for your ability to perform longer, faster and efficient . So why should a sportsman be held to a different standard? Is it because some parent of a non talented kid says so? Just saying.....
"Lastly, in almost every occupation you are awarded for your imagination; you are praised for your ability to perform longer, faster and efficient . So why should a sportsman be held to a different standard?"
This is an insane statement...if you go to work at the bank and CHEAT...you'll go to prison. If you go to work at the hospital and cheat....someone might die.
If you can explain why 26 people who know and worked with him would all tell the same lie...thn I might buy that he's innocent.
The guy has $125 million...he could have fought and defended his reutation...but he didnt. An innocent man does not let all he's worked for and accomplished be stripped away without a fight...especially one with his means
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