Armstrong case sends shockwaves, Britain rules

Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:17pm EST
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - The Lance Armstrong scandal left a huge gap in cycling's record books and further tainted the sport in a year when Britain experienced Olympic bliss in the wake of Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France title.

Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) uncovered what it said was the "most sophisticated" doping programme ever found.

It was, however, a vintage year for British cycling as they won their maiden Tour through Wiggins and scooped 12 medals at the London Olympics.

But the feelgood factor for the sport was shortlived as on August 23, Armstrong announced he would no longer fight doping charges after failing to have the process blocked by a judge.

His decision prompted the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to announce the Texan would lose his Tour titles from 1999-2005.

It was not until mid-October, however, that the extent of Armstrong's fraud was exposed when USADA published a 1,000-page report featuring testimonies from former team mates incriminating the American, a cancer survivor who went on to dominate the sport's greatest race more than anyone else.

His accusers said that with Armstrong effectively in charge, hotel rooms were transformed into blood banks, doctors were paid off and riders were warned about tests in advance.

Faced with the weight of evidence from Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Jonathan Vaughters and more, the governing UCI had little choice but to ratify USADA's decision and leave a blank in the record books, with president Pat McQuaid saying that Armstrong had "no place in cycling".   Continued...

Lance Armstrong (C) signs autographs following a run with his fans at Mount Royal park in Montreal August 29, 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi