Lance Armstrong's ban upheld as cycling faces 'worst crisis'

Lance Armstrong
All of Lance Armstrong's results since August 1998 have been eradicated. Photo: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Cycling's governing body has today upheld Lance Armstrong's lifetime ban for doping and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles, while defending its own conduct in cycling's "greatest crisis".

As expected, the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the sanctions imposed by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which had accused Armstrong of carrying out "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" - charges the American rider refused to fight.

Announcing the decision in Geneva, UCI president Pat McQuaid said he was "sickened" by what he had read in the USADA report, and as a result:

Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling.

Facing questions over his own future following the doping scandal, Mr McQuaid said he has "no intention of resigning" after seven years as UCI president.

He also defended the governing body's acceptance of more than $100,000 in donations from Armstrong - received while the rider was under suspicion of doping.

Pat McQuaid
UCI President Pat McQuaid defended the governing body's acceptance of donations from Armstrong. Credit: Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Asked how he could justify accepting the money, Mr McQuaid said Armstrong had not been found guilty at the time and the donation "was done openly and put to good use."

Mr McQuaid insisted cycling had "come a long way" in tackling doping under his watch. He said drug peddlers will always threaten the sport, whose rich history has been consistently sullied by doping problems, and it was the job of officials to "weed it out."

But, adapting a famous quote from former US President John F Kennedy, he said that the latest and "greatest crisis" brought about "danger", but also a fresh "opportunity" to clean the sport up.

While cycling had "suffered a lot of pain", it "has a future," he said.

Reformed drug cheats would be welcome to help in that future, Mr McQuaid added, while indicating there would be no place for Armstrong to return.

Lance Armstrong
Despite refusing to fight the USADA charges, Lance Armstrong has not admitted doping. Credit: Christinne Muschi / Reuters

The UCI ban, which wipes out all of Armstrong's professional results dating back to 1998, is the final nail in the career coffin for the 41-year-old American, whose unprecedented domination of the Tour earned him worldwide adulation and generated millions for the cancer survivor's Livestrong charity.

Sunglasses manufacturer Oakley became the first of Armstrong's last few sponsors to drop him in the wake of today's confirmed sanctions.

Sports giant Nike last week led a number of firms in emphatically distancing themselves from the Texan, who has also stood down as chairman of his foundation.

But he is still to 'come clean' in public. Instead, Armstrong said he had stopped contesting the charges after years of investigations and rumours because "there comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough'".