Lance banned for life
The long-awaited response from cycling’s governing body the UCI and its President Pat McQuaid was delivered today and Lance Armstrong has been banned from cycling for life.
The UCI, who were also criticised in the report by USADA, concurred with the US Anti-Doping Agency that Lance Armstrong had been a ring-leader in the most sophisticated doping programme cycling, had ever seen. They have accordingly stripped Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour De France titles won between 1999 and 2005.
In front of a group of journalists who grilled Dubliner and UCI President Pat McQuaid on his and his organisation’s role in the offences, McQuaid declared "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," and banned the Texan for life from the sport.
McQuaid defending the UCI said he would not be resigning, declaring: "This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads and has had to start anew."
McQuaid went on to promote his organisations efforts to clean up the sport contending that the cyclists who were mentioned in the report were now retired. Almost immediately he then went on to list all the doping scandals that took place during his Presidency and conceded, “It’s pretty horrific seven years I have had as President.”
In relation to the impending trial of Irish journalist Paul Kimmage who is being sued by McQuaid, former UCI President Hans Verbruggen and the UCI itself, McQuaid said that was a separate issue to the USADA report. (Although the report contains much of the same accusations that Kimmage has made about the governing body.) McQuaid indicated that the case would not be dropped.
He said, “I think what you have to do here is separate this action. The case against Paul Kimmage has nothing to do with the USADA report, with Lance Armstrong, or with Paul Kimmage, the anti-doping campaigner and author of Rough Ride...it is separate...” said McQuaid before adding that his case was against Paul Kimmage the man, who alleged that the UCI, McQuaid and its former President Hans Verbruggen were corrupt.
In relation to the fact the UCI had taken donations from Lance Armstrong when he was cycling competitively and, as we now know, doping and cheating to beat the band, McQuaid said it wasn’t a major issue.
“It’s not a resignation issue. It was best that we hadn’t done it. If it we were to do it in the future it will be done in a different way.”
McQuaid also wouldn't be drawn on what this means in relation to Armstrong's longtime partner and one of the most successful directeur sportives in cycling history Johan Bruyneel who is still under investigation for his role in the doping circle.
We don’t imagine that McQuaid and the UCI’s performance at the press conference today will wash well with the journalists present who were clearly looking for different and more substantive answers.
They did get one thing though, Lance Armstrong, at one time considered the greatest cyclist that ever lived, has been banned from life from the sport that now regards him as a liar, a cheat, a doper and someone who has no place in the sport.
It’s definitely not about the bike now, Lance.