Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Dope shame Lance Armstrong must return prize cash, says Tour de France chief

This July 28, 2002 file photo shows Lance Armstrong (centre) waving from the podium as he holds the winner's trophy, along with best sprinter Robbie McEwen, of Australia, right, and best climber Laurent Jalabert, of France, after the 20th and final stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Melun and Paris. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by cycling's governing body Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his teams. UCI President Pat McQuaid announced that the federation accepted the USADA's report on Armstrong and would not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme addresses reporters at the headquarters of ASO, the owners of the race, in Issy Les Moulineaux , west of Paris, Monday Oct. 22, 2012. Prudhomme said Monday he no longer considers Lance Armstrong a seven-time winner of the world's most prestigious cycling race. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton stands with Lance Armstrong during the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) September 24, 2008 in New York City

Disgraced Lance Armstrong could be forced to repay his Tour de France winnings after being stripped of his seven titles for doping offences.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, 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 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.

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."

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.

Armstrong, who cuts an increasingly isolated figure as Oakley became the latest sponsor to withdraw their backing, or the World Anti-Doping Agency could yet take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

UCI president Pat McQuaid 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 US dollars 100,000 (£62,000) 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."

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

The 41-year-old received a bonus payment of five million US dollars after a legal battle with SCA Promotions, who 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, told Press Association Sport: "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."

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