End of a dream era
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Lance Armstrong “is losing the seven cycling titles that made him a legend”, as CNN put it.
The ICU, or International Cycling Union in Aigle, canton Vaud, said Monday afternoon 22 October that it is stripping the American racer of his prizes and banning him from the sport for life, effectively cutting down the image of a sports hero that was so carefully sculpted over a number of years.
The ICU’s move could help save the sport of cycling from its worst moments, a doping scandal that has been so wide and deep that sports writers have asked if cycling could recover. Its lengthy press release certainly focuses more on the sport at large than on Armstrong and his cheating. The official statement begins:
“The UCI [its official acronym, from French] has completed its review of USADA’s ‘Reasoned Decision’ and appendices in the case against Lance Armstrong.
“The UCI considered the main issues of jurisdiction, the statute of limitation the evidence gathered by USADA and the sanction imposed upon Mr Armstrong.
“The UCI confirms that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that it will recognise the sanction that USADA has imposed.
“The USADA decision explains how riders on the USPS Team showed no inclination to share the full extent of what they knew until they were subpoenaed or called by federal investigators and that their only reason for telling the truth is because the law required them to do so.
“These riders have confronted their past and told their stories. Their accounts of their past provide a shocking insight into the USPS Team where the expression to ‘win at all costs’ was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion.
“Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team. The UCI has always been the first international sporting federation to embrace new developments in the fight against doping and it regrets that the anti-doping infrastructure that exists today was not available at that time so as to render such evasion impossible.”
The federation notes that it tested Tyler Hamilton “40 times and found him positive” as well as “Floyd Landis 46 times and found him positive as the winner of the Tour de France. The list of riders that it has found positive does not end there. The UCI has tested Lance Armstrong 218 times. If Lance Armstrong was able to beat the system then the responsibility for addressing that rests not only with the UCI but also with WADA and all of the other anti-doping agencies who accepted the results.”
It supports WADA’s decision to create a working group to examine “The Ineffectiveness of the Fight Against Doping in Sport”. it says, suggesting that the group begin “by examining the effectiveness of the system in place to detect the use of performance enhancing substances in cycling.”