Cycling

TDF roll of honour in doubt

2012-08-24 15:52
Lance Armstrong (File)

Paris - The Tour de France roll of honour is in potential disarray after the US Anti-Doping Agency said Lance Armstrong would be stripped of his seven wins following his decision to drop his fight against drug charges.

The Texan won cycling's greatest race from 1999 to 2005 but organisers of the annual blue riband event face a major headache if the sport's world governing body confirms that he will be removed from the list of winners.

Not only will they have to tackle the problem of reassigning his seven wins but also the 22 stages he claimed in the years he made the celebrated race his own.

In the modern era two cyclists have been awarded the Tour de France on a disqualification.

Spain's Oscar Pereiro was awarded the 2006 race after American winner Floyd Landis was stripped of his title for doping.

Pereiro's compatriot, Alberto Contador, also found guilty of doping, was replaced by Andy Schleck as the winner in 2010.

In each of these cases the yellow jersey was handed to the runner-up over one year after the finish on the Champs Elysees - a lengthy delay justified by the necessity of letting appeal procedures run their course.

During the Armstrong era the runner-up on three occasions (2000, 2001 and 2003) was Jan Ullrich - the German rider who himself was punished for doping and was stripped of his third place finish in the 2005 Tour.

So, with Friday's developments Ullrich - the only German Tour winner after he claimed the 1997 edition - could find himself accredited with no fewer than four Tour de France triumphs.

That would place him in front of champions like France's Louison Bobet or US great Greg LeMond.

Another rider tainted by doping who could benefit is Ivan Basso.

The Italian would be in line to be named the winner of the 2005 Tour. He served a ban for doping as part of the Puerto affair but was not stripped of his win in the 2006 Tour of Italy.

The other three cyclists to finish runner-up to Armstrong were Switzerland's Alex Zulle (1999), who had just emerged that year from the shadows of a suspension from the Festina case, Spain's Joseba Beloki (2002) and German Andreas Kloden (2004).

The Puerto affair took its name from the Spanish police investigation into a doping network that overshadowed the 2006 tour while the Festina scandal followed the arrest of the team's soigneur Willy Voet for possession of illegal drugs in 1998.

Voet later wrote about widespread doping practices in cycling in his 1999 book "Breaking the Chain".

Read more on:    lance armstrong  |  cycling
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