Tuesday 21 November 2017

Top cycling bosses must have accept responsibility for Armstrong era, says watchdog

A TOP anti-doping official has called on leading figures in cycling's governing body who were in office during the Lance Armstrong affair to accept some of the responsibility.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) yesterday ratified the sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, who concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Armstrong, who could be forced to repay his tour de France prize money and bonuses, today removed reference to his Tour de France titles on his Twitter account.

Armstrong was banned for life and all his results from August 1, 1998 removed, including his wins at the Tour from 1999 to 2005.

The UCI management committee will meet on Friday to discuss the "exact sporting consequences" of the decision, including whether the titles and prize money will be re-distributed.

But today World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey claimed the sport will only regain credibility when the senior officials on watch take responsibility for the scandal.

"Looking back, clearly the doping was widespread," Fahey said.

"I look forward to seeing what they (the UCI) propose to do for the future to ensure what we've seen through this Armstrong debacle doesn't happen again.

"They clearly have to take the blinkers off, look at the past, examine the people who are there, ask themselves the questions: 'are those same people still in the sport and can they proceed forward with those people remaining?'

"I don't think there's any credibility if they don't do that and I think they need to get confidence back into the sport so that its millions of supporters around the world will watch and support the sport going forward."

UCI president Pat McQuaid, who has held the position since 2006, rejected calls for his resignation over perceived failures by the world governing body over the Armstrong affair, instead insisting cycling has a positive future and "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling".

McQuaid was forced to insist the UCI has "nothing to hide" over a donation of more than $100,000 made by Armstrong in 2002, denying it was connected to any cover-up of a positive test.

"UCI has nothing to hide in responding to the USADA report," McQuaid added.

"Don't try to make the connection between the suspicious test and the donation. There were no positive tests from him.

"There is no connection between the donation given to the UCI and a test being covered up because there was no test covered up.

"It's certainly not a resignation issue. It would be better if we hadn't done it, and if we were to do it in the future, we would do it in a different way."

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme believes the race must not have a victor in the Armstrong years.

Prudhomme said: "The formal decision has to be taken by the UCI but for us, we must have a clean record. This period must be marked by the absence of winners.

"The UCI rules are clear. When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back."

Meanwhile, Armstrong has been asked to repay a disputed bonus payment.

The 41-year-old received a bonus of $5m after a legal battle with SCA Promotions, which had declined to pay the sum in the belief the American had doped to win his seven Tour titles.

Jeff Tillotson, lawyer for SCA Promotions, said: "It is inappropriate and improper for him to keep those bonus amounts and we will be demanding them back and pursuing appropriate legal action if he does not return them."

The International Olympic Committee will await Friday's UCI meeting and further information before a decision is made on the bronze medal Armstrong won in Sydney in 2000.

Armstrong, who battled back from cancer to return to professional cycling, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and refused to co-operate with the USADA investigation.

He cuts an increasingly isolated figure as Oakley became the latest sponsor to withdraw their backing.

Armstrong today removed '7-time Tour de France champion' from his Twitter profile in his first response to being stripped of his seven titles for doping offences.

His profile today said: "Raising my five kids. Fighting Cancer. Swim, bike, run and golf whenever I can."

Both Armstrong and WADA could yet take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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