Mon October 22, 2012
World Cycling Body Upholds U.S. Ruling On Armstrong
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Lance Armstrong became a bicycle racing legend when he won every Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. But after what happened today, there will be no official record of all those victories. Cycling's international governing body announced it will not appeal sanctions by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The effect of all this, Armstrong is banned from cycling and stripped of his titles. All this comes after a scathing report from the Anti-Doping Agency 12 days ago that linked Armstrong and others on his cycling teams to a massive doping program. Joining me now is NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. And Tom, update us if you can on the news today.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: David, Pat Mc Quaid, the head of the UCI, cycling's governing body, made the announcement today. Some quotes from that press conference. McQuaid said, quote, "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling." He also said, the UCI wishes to begin that journey on the path forward today by confirming that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and that it will recognize the sanctions that USADA has imposed, as you mentioned.
Now, the plan by the Tour de France is to leave the winners' slots blank from those years that Lance Armstrong won, '99 to 2005. And many say that is a telling testament to an era when doping was considered rampant in elite cycling. People in future years will look back, see a blank, and go, what happened there?
GREENE: Amazing. Not just asterisks, but I mean, just a record that no one won those titles.
GREENE: What is next for Lance Armstrong? I mean, what now?
GOLDMAN: Well, aside from this news today, we assume that it means a return of prize money, although that gets complicated because the money is distributed to his teammates. So that still has to be figured out.
Beyond the Tour de France, his ban from cycling doesn't mean that much since he's retired. But he is banned from sports that are signatories to the World Anti-Doping Agency code, meaning officially sanctioned triathlons, for instance. Triathlons are his new passion. There was a recent triathlon he competed in that dropped its official sanctioning. That maybe what he has to do; find events that are willing to do that.
And then there are financial liabilities that could reach into the millions. Some earlier legal disputes were resolved in Armstrong's favor, earning him millions of dollars. Those could be revisited and he may have to pay back those millions.
GREENE: Tom Goldman, you've been covering this saga, not just Lance Armstrong but the whole massive doping program. Does the story now go away, now that we have this news? Or is there more to come?
GOLDMAN: Hardly. You know, there were others implicated in the report and their cases have to run their course. There is hope in some parts of cycling that this whole matter spurs major reform. There's talk about a truth and reconciliation process to prompt more cyclists and others in the sport to come forward to tell their tales as a way to thoroughly cleanse this doping past, so cycling can perhaps move on. Many say the current sport is cleaner, but there needs to be this total cleansing of the past to really attack the problem today.
Also, the UCI, which made the announcement today, is under scrutiny, named in the USADA report as possibly being complicit in the doping. There's concern it was the governing body all those years where doping was rampant, and that it allowed the climate to continue. Pat McQuaid said today, though, he has no plans to resign.
GREENE: And briefly, Tom. Lance Armstrong made some appearances during an anniversary fundraiser for Livestrong in Austin, Texas over the weekend.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, that's right. And it's a community he feels very comfortable in, and they are very supportive. It was a warm embrace for Lance Armstrong, and that's where he is going to put a lot of his time in now.
GREENE: That's of course his organization for cancer survivors. NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
GREENE: We've been speaking about Lance Armstrong. The news is he is banned from cycling and stripped of his Tour de France titles. And we'll be following this story as it goes forward. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.