Lance Armstrong was officially stripped of his titles Monday by cycling's governing body in the latest chapter in the doping allegations against the seven times Tour de France champion.
The International Cycling Union, or UCI, the sport's governing body, acted following a damning report by the U.S. antidoping authorities which said Mr. Armstrong was at the center of "a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history."
The UCI said it accepted the findings and punishments handed out by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency which included stripping the 41-year-old cancer survivor of all results dating back to Aug. 1, 1998, including his record run of seven Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005, and banned him from competitive cycling for life.
The UCI's decision not to appeal the antidoping agency's verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest court in sports, formally strips Mr. Armstrong of his titles.
"The UCI will recognize the sanction that USADA has imposed, and the UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles." said UCI President Pat McQuaid.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," Mr. McQuaid said.
A lawyer for Mr. Armstrong didn't immediately return messages seeking comment on the UCI's decision.
The USADA report, released Oct. 10, is a 1,000-page document which shows, the agency says, that Mr. Armstrong took part in a doping scheme on his way to his unrivaled success on the Tour from 1999 to 2005.
The report accused Mr. Armstrong, as head of the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, of running "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.'' It included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders, who described years of performance drug use.
The UCI will hold a meeting on Friday to decide whether to seek the return of prize money won by Mr. Armstrong as well as decide whether to award his Tour de France titles to other cyclists.
Christian Prudhomme, the race director of the Tour, has said he doesn't want the titles to be handed to anyone else given that the era was tainted by doping.
Mr. McQuaid said he was "sickened" by what he had read in USADA's report, particularly how its allegations that other members of Mr. Armstrong's team had been coerced into using banned performance enhancing drugs.
He told a news conference said the doping issue was the biggest crisis that cycling had faced, but the sport still had a future with stronger anti doping tests and controls now in place.
The UCI's decision is another blow for Mr. Armstrong who was last week was dumped by his sponsors, including Nike Inc, RadioShack, Anheuser-Busch and the makers of Trek bikes and Giro helmets.
Nike was particularly harsh, citing what it described as insurmountable evidence that Mr. Armstrong had participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade.
Mr. Armstrong also stepped down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, known as Livestrong, following the publication of USADA's 1,000 page report into the use of performance enhancing drugs by Mr. Armstrong and his United States Postal Service Team.
The Dutch banking group Rabobank on Friday said it was ending its sponsorship of professional cycling after almost 20 years, saying it was "no longer convinced" the sport can be realistically viewed as clean.
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