MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life, the International Cycling Union announced Monday.
The UCI decision comes after the recent release of a United States Anti-Doping Agency report that said Armstrong used doping to help win Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, and coerced his cycling teammates to do the same. The company that organizes the Tour de France will now remove Armstrong's name from its record books, The New York Times reported.
"We've come too far in the fight against doping to go back to the past," UCI President Pat McQuaid said at a news conference on Monday in Switzerland. "Something like this must never happen again."
He added that Armstrong "has no place in cycling."
According to Christian Prudhomme, the race director for the Tour de France, the races in which Armstrong formerly placed first will have no official winner declared because doping is thought to have been widespread at the time the races occurred.
The World Anti-Doping Agency still has 21 days to decide whether it will appeal the ruling, the Times reported.
The announcement comes less than a week after Armstrong stepped down as chairman of LIVESTRONG, the cancer charity he founded.
In a statement posted on the foundation's website last Wednesday, Armstrong said, "I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation's chairman for the last five years, and its mission and success are my top priorities. Today, therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."
He said that LIVESTRONG Vice Chairman Jeff Garvey would take over as chairman.
The scandal over Armstrong's alleged involvement in doping continues to swirl around the seven-time Tour de France winner. On Oct. 10, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused Armstrong of being a ringleader in a long-term doping conspiracy within professional cycling. According to the Times, 26 people, including nearly a dozen of Armstrong's teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team, have submitted sworn testimony detailing their own doping and his involvement in the practice.
"The U.S.P.S. Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices," the anti-doping agency said. "A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules, and who still play a major and active role in [the] sport today."
Armstrong's well-publicized battle with testicular cancer was the impetus for LIVESTRONG, which has been very successful in advocating for cancer research.
"Long before he became a household name, Lance Armstrong created a foundation to serve others facing the same fears and challenges he struggled to overcome as a result of his cancer diagnosis," Doug Ulman, LIVESTRONG president and CEO, said in the foundation's news release. "Today, thanks to Lance's leadership, that foundation has had the privilege of raising close to $500 million to serve people affected by cancer."
As for Armstrong, he said in the statement that "my family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer."
There's more on testicular cancer at the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Oct. 17, 2012, news release, LIVESTRONG; The New York Times
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
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