The UCI Purge Lance Armstrong From History

Armstrong Wiggins 2009

News today that the UCI has decided not to re-allocated the results of the Tour de France from 1999-2005 is everywhere. Lance Armstrong vanishes from the results and the result from these years will be left blank.

But let’s look beyond this as there are more issues to consider. From with the decision on his Olympic medal, Bradley Wiggins climbs on the podium of the 2009 Tour de France… and I think it’s possible that the UCI could be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Ivan Basso or Andreas Klöden so that they can claim their rightful Tour de France win. In theory that is.

If there’s no winner of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005 the UCI has confirmed that other results are being re-allocated. For example Bradley Wiggins was fourth in the 2009 Tour de France but since Armstrong has been disqualified after finishing third, Wiggins now climbs on to the podium.

Only he doesn’t. Over time people will update Wikipedia, publishers will print the results in books but Wiggins will never have stood on that podium in July 2009 and enjoyed the moment.

It’s all rather like a Stalinist purge where heroes of the Soviet revolution where celebrated one minute and then airbrushed from pictures just like the one above, courtesy of Wikipedia although fortunately this is just sport today. Still this extends far and wide, the commemorative signs on the hairpins of Alpe d’Huez are being reviewed by the local mayor.

Some things cannot be fixed though. The UCI has asked for the prize money back (apparently €2.9 million) but the chance of this happening is small. The UCI won’t even go to court after all. And Lance Armstrong will keep the porcelain trophies and even a Crédit Lyonnais lion.

Stripped of Bronze
Armstrong is disqualified from other events too. For example he loses his bronze medal from the time trial in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Spaniard Abraham Olano – himself no stranger to Michele Ferrari – will not collect the bronze medal, apparently this result will be left blank according to the UCI.

Blank judgement
The decision not to allocate the Tour de France results to someone else is understandable but also questionable. It is understandable because we know that every single one of the podium finishers from 1999 to 2005 has been linked to doping investigations, busts or settlements with the exception of Fernando Escartin, who rode for the Kelme team which employed some questionable medical staff itself. In other words there is a high probability that the runner-up was doping too and giving them the win would be a farce.

But it’s not ideal either because if 1999-2005 are wiped from memory, 1998 and 2006 were hardly joyous times. 1998 saw the Festina scandal exposed and we know if this team and later the TVM team were caught but it’s safe to say others were doing similar things but not caught and 2006 saw Floyd Landis caught and more. In other words if Armstrong is purged from the past let’s not forget the other years saw similar practices at other teams. The difference? It seems we’ve finally been able to catch the winner and comprehensively expose what they did whilst many others just got away with it.

Call the CAS?
But the UCI’s decision is also questionable because the act of declaring the race results null isn’t within the UCI’s powers. It’s a retrospective judgement which is convenient and even satisfying. But it doesn’t seem to be in the rules. Normally a athlete is disqualified and the runner-up is awarded the win. This opens up the possibility that Ullrich, Basso, Klöden, Zülle and Beloki could take the UCI to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and demand they are awarded the Tour de France win. Now I said possibility, as in it is an academic exercise to say the UCI has acted out of the rules and therefore these riders have grounds to seek “justice” and be “rightly” awarded the win. I can’t see it happening. But it does highlight the odd situation.

Independent Commission
The UCI has also announced it wants “a fully independent external Commission to look into the various allegations made about UCI relating to the Armstrong affair” and its “remit “would be to find ways to ensure that persons caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage”.

For now well have to see what this means and just how independent the commission will be. Plus what does the exclusion of dopers from team entourage mean? We already have a new rule on this. But how far will it go? Any further and Alexander Vinokourov could find himself out of a job at Astana before he’s even sat behind the wheel of a team car. And Jonathan Vaughters could be out too. ALl this remains to be seen.

UCI retreat over Kimmage?
The UCI’s also signalled it is suspending the legal action against Paul Kimmage and that Pat McQuaid and Henricus “Hein” Verbruggen have decided to follow too, albeit stating “while continuing strongly to maintain the merits of UCI’s case”. Still, they would say that. Any retreat on the case won’t be prefaced by an apology or an admission that the move was ill-advised. So we’ll see and certainly the commission should call Paul Kimmage for a chat. In the meantime the fund will “press on”.

Finally as the tweet above suggests, more went on the room than we’ll ever know. For now the UCI buys itself more time. It’s up to them to ensure an independent commission.

And beyond this the news in Italy with the Padova case is serious. I really hope the UCI doesn’t wait for the newspapers or judges to act but instead seeks formal statements from those named in depositions and newspapers prior to awarding Pro Team licences or even racing licences.

Lance Armstrong has left the building. In fact he never existed. Lance who?

In fact Armstrong is now the “disgraced former cyclist,” 1993 world champion who’s highest position in the Tour was 36th place. Yet it if Armstrong gets wiped from the sport like a surgeon washing their hands, let’s not forget the whole era was a mess. And whilst things are better today they are not perfect too.

If the UCI’s decision today is satisfying, certainly ASO have said they approve, it’s still controversial. And the story won’t stop. There are consequences every day, Team Sky are having a clear out and if you have not read it, Bradley McGee’s piece today is a powerful read. But we can paste in a range of names to his story, many were robbed.

The story goes on.

47 thoughts on “The UCI Purge Lance Armstrong From History”

  1. This all has a curious feeling of unreality to it. Perhaps because the “revelations” about Armstrong are completely unsurprising to many of us who have been following cycling for a long time. The fact is, there just aren’t any good solutions to how you treat the past; somehow Bjarne Riis is considered a TdF winner and Armstrong isn’t. You can’t just randomly allocate victories.

    The significance is that Armstrong is the “big fish.” And he, more than anyone else, polarized the peloton and controlled the movement of information about his era of cycling.

    At the height of his powers, the question was asked, “Is he a true *patron* of the peloton?” Of course, he was compared to the standard of Hinault, whose iron fist ruled over cycling for years. It was thought that Armstrong simply didn’t have the same kind of influence.

    But we were wrong. “Good guys” like McGee and Vaughters dare not speak up. Rebels would find their careers damaged on and off the road. Friends would find themselves promoted and welcomed. Armstrong’s hold on the minds and the behaviors of the peloton of his era was thorough and complete.

    He was the patron. The patron of cheating.

    • USA election comming perhaps? collective lynching?

      Seems like for UCI, rules are not applied equally to everyone;

      – The rule of no modifications of results after eight years is gone. Gone for LA, not for others.
      – The rule of if catched doped, runner up gets that position, gone. Gone for LA tours, not for Contador or Landis.
      – The rule of, if tested positive you are banned gone. Gone for LA, you can submit fake medical prescriptions. this is UCI to blame.
      – The rule of, if doped with EPO, two years ban gone. Gone for these guys who testified for USADA, not for contador or landis, and we will see what happens with frank schleck.

      We are living the days of highest levels of hypocresy ever in cycling, how nice. I can understand how German television is not broadcasting Tour de France anymore. All other countries should follow. This is a circus of hypocresy.

      • Vaughters is not a good guy, sorry. He doped, lied about it or just covered it up, then finally came clean more or less because he had to. Granted, he has ‘become more of a good guy’ in management, but there is still his treatment of Trent Lowe that stinks. The kid is bundled out of the sport, no positive test, apparently due to Vaughters’ assistant’s bad judgement, and ends up just a pawn and Vaughters stays a king. Dopers and the Omertà win again in that one.

        McGee, by his admission and a clean record, is what you call a ‘good guy’.

  2. I look forward to learning more about the independent commission. Since this independent commission will be tasked with investigating “various allegations made about UCI relating to the Armstrong affair,” we may be looking at in independent investigation reporting on the activities of another independent investigation, namely the investigation conducted by Emile Vrijman. There is a hall of mirrors quality to this, but we will have to wait for more details before passing judgment.

  3. I’ve been reading Willy Voet’s book ‘Breaking the Chain’. I recommend it – tough account of the doping scene from the mid-1970s. The efforts made to supply clean urine samples are hilarious. Clearly Armstrong is the tip of the iceberg.

  4. The local mayor for Alpe d’Huez should probably take a hard look at some of the other signs on the switchbacks. Who really thinks, now, that Bugno and Pantani, for example, were riding clean. The 70s and 80s has a host of names who were busted for testosterone or corticoids, back when such an infringement – even at the Tour – cost only a stage relegation and a time penalty. And, of course, Coppi was a regular user of amphetamines, as were many of his rivals in that era.

    There’s a difficult dilemma in wanting to remove the acknowledgement of tainted winners, and to engage in academic exercises of choosing the ‘true’ winner, and simply saying that doping has been prevalent in cycling for a long, long time (and those victories on the road still stand) and that moving on does not necessarily require removing all trace of what happened.

    • I agree w/ you. But do we wait another 10 years and look back and the winners through 2013 to 2023 were doped? When do we (if you are part of we) make a stand?

  5. Im even more depressed. They had the chance to get rid of Verbruggen and demonstrate they had some balls and accepted some culpability. They couldn’t even get that right……..

    • I agree that this is disappointing. On the plus side, the appointment of an independent commission to investigate, well something, is potentially a big positive. Exactly how much of a positive won’t be clear until the commission’s terms of reference and powers are announced (if they are).

      Personally, I think that now would be a good time for the UCI to, as far as is scientifically viable, retest all the stored samples to see who was on what — and hence give the message that this is about the bike and not about Armstrong.

      One problem cycling has now is that a (very small) number of honest cyclists, such as Jullich, who weren’t so honest before are now confessing and being penalised for their honesty. In contrast, the ones who doped and are still are keeping quiet about it continue to “contribute” to cycling without penalty.

      Retesting all old samples would even this out a little — and probably completely ruin the old results sheet. I’ve never understood the point of keeping old samples so that they “could” be retested when new tests become available given that they NEVER seem to be…

      • It does seem weird. I thought the whole point of keeping samples was to test them when new tests come along. But they don’t. far from it, the UCI complained when L’Equippe reported the positive 1999 tests.

        Surely if they did do this (just as they do in horseracing) it would be a powerful disincentive to ride doped. Who would want to go through what Armstrong has been through the last couple of weeks? Sure he was king of the mountain for 7 years, but for the rest of his life he’s stuffed, with the word Armstrong forever prefaced with the word disgraced.

      • Good question. I think when trying to drop the watermark/logo on top moving the mouse must have moved the brush. It’s fixed now.

        A reminder if people see a photo with the INRNG logo it can be bought. I don’t make a cent but will happily help the photographer earn more and you get the photo you’re after.

  6. “It seems we’ve finally been able to catch the winner and comprehensively expose what they did whilst many others just got away with it.”

    This is exactly why those that admit to doping now, especially those who have gone their whole career without sanction, should face a punishment.

    And it is why, as far as the law allows, the authorities should act as much retrospectively as they do in the present.

  7. I won’t hold my breath after their last effort of whitewash – the Virjman fiasco.

    What is needed as a first and urgent step is for a body outside the cabal that is the UCI, to appoint the committee. This could be a sempiternal moment to secure the future for youth, fans and of professional cycling. Why can not WADA, or some other respectable body, be requested to undertake appointments, including the chairman. I am sure posters here could propose many acceptable and suitable names.

    If the UCI committee can not even heave Verbrugen from the corpse, what chance have we of a truely independent group of people with the required principals and vision.

  8. Interesting thoughts from New Zealand pro peleton rider Hayden Roulston. I wonder if the way he feels is shared by many of the less well known riders – they’ve kept it clean, worked hard, won little (though Hayden has Olympic track medals), but are of course utterly passionate about cycling, their job. What do they think of the way it is all unfolding/falling apart right now?

    “Our sport is on the brink of what some would call a massive meltdown. Some feel the sport will never recover, and some thought that this was always going to happen, it was just a matter of when. I feel that our sport is on the brink of something special, but we are not there yet. As much as I would love to bring out a big gun, and line up everyone that has a past, I cant.

    If it was up to me, I would honestly ban any manager/rider/staff member that has been involved in doping, or has tested positive in the past. This cull would be huge and devastating, and some stars would be lost, but its the true way to start fresh if that’s what everybody wants come the start of the 2013 season. … If you don’t take such a measure like this, what will happen ‘if’ michelle Ferraris documents are released in a year or two or maybe sooner? It will be bigger than the current mess we have now, and could very well involve a shit load more people.

    For some time now cycling has had a massive gash on the leg. Its been covered up, then uncovered, then covered again. Now cycling has the first real chance to fully let the gash heal from the bottom up.. I really hope Lance tells the world the way it was. … I hope that he also uncovers Ferraris doping program, cause it is still active in todays peleton. If not, this gash that has started to heal will only get another bloody bandage, which is something we do not want!!”


  9. I’m even more depressed. They had the chance to get rid of Verbruggen and demonstrate they had some balls and accepted some culpability. They couldn’t even get that right……..

  10. I still can’t understand why it isn’t a good idea to organize a vote among the participating cyclists of yhe tours in question to who is the worthy winner? It can’t be that hard to realize, and reading the affidavits from the USADA case it seems to me the riders knew better than any who rode clean and who didn’t.

    Of course this could instigate some strategic voting (gregari voting for their team leader, friends etc.), though given that these athletes are mostly retired and part of a sport largely made up of independent-thinking individuals, it could be a good way to settle this as fairly as possible and even on a somewhat positive note?

  11. And let us not forget who pays pro cyclists. It is not like a lot of other sports, were one has to pay to get in. If the image is bad pro cycling – it is over. It is not so much about what you and think – in the end it is what they think.

    • Exactly and one theme on this blog is the absence of sponsors. Several teams are funded by wealth individuals and away from the Tour de France other races are struggling from money.

      Also there have been several sponsors interested in sponsoring a pro team but hesitant because of doping scandals. The recent fallout from the Armstrong case will scare them and if that’s not enough, the worry is the Padova case in Italy does. It’s probably the topic for another day but if sponsors do it right they can avoid scandal, even making themselves look virtuous.

      • Thank you for responding. My first time here. I agree – Garmin! But I do think the sponsors that really have anything to do with cycling will jump – not BMC because they want sell bicycles . But Saxo Bank, they will never make me a better rider, unless give me money to “do what I need to do”. The outside of cycling sponsors, lets start with,Bissell is dedicated to providing vacuum cleaners that can tackle any mess. Let our experts help you find the Bissell vacuum that best matches your lifestyle … I love your blog – but it is not about avoiding scandal … it is will anyone want to invest in a sporting event that is considered despicable? (mind you, they are fronting 10’s of millions and you have Joe investing in their stock thinking this was a mistake!). Investors pull out, it get bad very quick. If, and I don’t, and love cycling – I am NOT going invest in cycling!

      • Just looking at my brother’s jersey that he gave to me. He is 48 years old – CAT II road, CAT I mountain. Any case, one of the sponsors is simply a husband and wife …

  12. With Berlusconi’s jail sentence for tax fraud today, losing their racing licence might be the least of the riders problems coming out of Padova.

    Surely the UCI cannot grant ProTour licenses until Padova is announced. The egg on the face of having Astana and Radioshack all over this case when it breaks would be too much even for the UCI. Rather than the points system being the first hurdle for their license, the ethics of being a team should be first hurdle. Teams should have to show what they are doing in their team to ensure no doping is undertaken. They should have to explain who their doctors and staff are, and what their history is, and explain how they have dealt with riders with prior convictions or any rider popped whilst in their team. And this should all be explained in a transparent manner. The ethics of the team should be more important than signing an Iranian with points but not the ability to stay in the ProTour.

    • It’s difficult. Hard to block the teams but the least we could do is get the riders and team managers/owners in and make them give sworn statements under oath and just put some obvious questions, like why was Vinokourov wiring so much money to Ferrari. This way the UCI could have some assurance and if they’re found out later they can be ejected immediately.

  13. The guys name is “Hein”. His birth cert may have a greek/latin form of his name written on it, but that was somewhat the norm in the Netherlands in those days and earlier – that form would pretty much *never* have been used for anything but the birth cert and derived official documents. Please just use “Hein”, to do otherwise suggests you’re perhaps poking fun at something a) completely beyond his control, b) that would catch pretty much every dutch male older than a certain age c) that has no relevance. It potentially could slightly annoy some dutch readers. 😉

    • I don’t think IR was poking fun. If you read the section in context I think you’ll realise IR was referring to Hein’s name as it appears in court documents. Take a chill…

    • OK, Hein it is. Just wanted to associate the name he put forward on the court documents and I’d seen it used before. And Dutch readers might be more annoyed with the conduct of Mr Verbruggen rather than his name?

        • I am Dutch too. I am not in the least annoyed by the mentioning of Hein’s official name because it appears that way in an official document. This kind of shortening of names is not exclusively Dutch either, e.g. Dick-Richard or Bill-William in English.
          I am highly annoyed by Hein’s management of cycling over the past years, and I hope he will soon be forced to stop dragging the name of our otherwise so cycling-friendly country through the dirt.

  14. The latest UCI reaction seems narrow in scope, inward looking and short termism at its worst. And by reluctantly “suspending” the case against Kimmage, they achieve a little piece of positive PR and yet leave him watching his back for another 8 months … why on earth doesn’t the UCI take a step back and just for once have a think about what will happen with the upcoming cases and plan NOW for the steps to clean up the sport based on worst case scenarios. Otherwise this ruling body in 2013/14 will stagger from disaster to disaster and for every Armstrong there will be a drip drip of other riders / DS / Doctors caught up in the doping maelstrom. To quote another of your contributors above, the patient needs major surgery not another Bandaid. Actually J&J would be a nice fit as a sponsor – but can you imagine a McQuaid pitch for sponsorship to large companies like like Samsung / Sony / Coca Cola /Apple /Red Bull /Vodafone / Bank of China or whatever ? – he wouldn’t even get into the boardroom. Most of these companies probably have brand guidelines which automatically inhibits them from associating their brands with dope infested sports like professional cycling.

    • Mike you are so correct. I take a ride for stopping cancer and then ask the sponsor (mmm J&J) to support us??? No I was not asking for EPO!

  15. I still think they should have just marked with an asterisk all questionable results from past races and left it at that. Doing otherwise gets too complicated.

  16. “In fact Armstrong is now the “disgraced former cyclist,” ”

    So, Lance and disgraced former cyclist Pat McQuaid have something in common then.

  17. On CAS appeals: could some of the former runners-up appeal to collect their prize money? If they can take it away from LA others may feel they are entitled. E.g. Jan Ullrich would have quite a sum to gain and not much of a reputation to loose in the cycling world. Of course, the UCI or ASO would probably be able to find some witnesses to show he was doping as well. But there’s a statute of limitations that is not easy to circumvent. Or does that statute apply to prize money too? Complicated.

  18. If I was Paul Kimmage…

    I would feel relief that the pressure of the court case has gone (although not entirely relived for another 8 months).

    And I would feel angry.

    And I am a journalist, perhaps with a lot of evidence compiled in defence of the court case. And I don’t have a newspaper commitment at the moment, and I’ve written a few books in my time.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Paul Kimmage decides he wants to do next!

  19. If these guys are going to the podium, who is paying them for their win? That money was spent by Lance.
    UCI retreat over Kimmage? When being chased out if town, pretend to be leading a parade, the UCI way.

  20. If these guys are going to the podium, who is paying them for their win? That money was spent by Lance.
    UCI retreat over Kimmage? When being chased out if town, pretend to be leading a parade, the UCI way.

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