French cycling group praises USADA for stripping Armstrong of Tour wins
Lance Armstrong is tended to after crashing during the fifth stage of the Tour of California cycling race in the outskirts of Visalia, Calif., Thursday, May 20, 2010. (AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, August 30, 2012 1:28PM EDT
PARIS -- The French Cycling Federation "welcomes" the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles for doping.
Last week, Armstrong dropped any further challenges to the USADA's allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs to win cycling's premier event from 1999-2005. A day later, USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour titles and banned him for life.
"The French Cycling Federation welcomes the perseverance of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency," the FFC said in a statement Thursday. "Armstrong's refusal to contest USADA's accusations sounds like an admission of his guilt with regards to breaches of anti-doping regulation."
The FFC added that "this decision closes a 'black book' on a sombre period for international cycling" and "it also shows that the biggest athletes are not protected."
Should Armstrong be officially stripped of his seven Tour wins by the International Cycling Union, the FFC thinks the titles should not be redistributed so as to "avoid all debate with regards to the credibility of the eventual winners."
Armstrong says USADA doesn't have the authority to remove his Tour titles. The UCI has the ultimate decision, but has declined to comment until it learns of USADA's reasons for stripping Armstrong.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the 40-year-old Armstrong could also lose other awards, event titles and cash earnings while the International Olympic Committee might look at the bronze medal he won in the 2000 Games.
Armstrong effectively dropped his fight by declining to enter USADA's arbitration process -- his last option -- because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years.
USADA said Armstrong's decision not to go to arbitration triggers the lifetime ineligibility and forfeiture of all results from Aug. 1, 1998, through to the present. It also maintains that Armstrong used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions.
Armstrong, who has always denied doping and points to hundreds of tests that he has passed, walked away from the sport in 2011 without being charged following a two-year federal criminal investigation into many of the same accusations he faces from USADA.
The federal probe was closed in February, but USADA announced in June it had evidence Armstrong used banned substances and methods -- and encouraged their use by teammates. The agency also said it had blood tests from 2009 and 2010 that were "fully consistent" with blood doping.