Tour de France chief wants years 1999-2005 left blank on the record books
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Tour de France chief wants years 1999-2005 left blank on the record books

by Ben Atkins at 11:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
No reassignment of Lance Armstrong’s stripped victories, says Christian Prudhomme

christian prudhommeTour de France director general Christian Prudhomme would like to see the Tour de France roll of honour left blank between the years 1999 and 2005, according to l’Equipe. Those seven Tours were originally won by Lance Armstrong, but the American stands to have them stripped after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found that he was guilty of a decades-long doping conspiracy.

Under International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations, the races should be awarded to those next in line on the result sheet, which would see them given to Alex Zülle (1999), Jan Ullrich (2000, 2001 and 2003) - taking the German’s personal total up to four - Joseba Beloki (2002), Andreas Klöden (2004), and Ivan Basso (2005). Virtually all of those riders have been embroiled in one doping scandal or other in some point of their careers however, which is why Prudhomme would prefer to see them left blank.

“This is a situation caused by a system, and also a time, that will be forever tainted,” he said. “What we want is that there is no winner. We cannot be indifferent to what USADA unveiled this week; it is a damning picture that has been drawn.”

The Tour de France has had to reassign overall victory just three times in its 109 year - 99 edition - history, but two of those occasions have occurred in the last six years. The 2006 race was retrospectively awarded to Oscar Pereiro after Floyd Landis was eventually stripped, following a long legal battle over a positive test for synthetic testosterone; while the 2010 race was awarded to Andy Schleck earlier this year, after the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) finally disqualified Alberto Contador for his clenbuterol positive.

The only other time that the race’s winner has been changed after the fact was in 1904, the race’s second edition, where the top three were all disqualified for differing degrees of cheating, including covering much of the course by train.

Prudhomme is now faced with the prospect of re-writing the race’s history once again but, much as he would like to leave the record sheet blank, realises that he may be forced to list the winner of seven more editions as different to the picture of the rider in yellow on the Champs-Élysées.

“As surprising as it may seem from the outside, the organisers are not masters of their palmares,” Prudhomme explained. “This is a difficulty that the current anti-doping system has created. Cycling and the UCI, as supervisors of this struggle, were pioneers; the Biological Passport, the number of controls and targeting means that it is more and more effective, and the catching of cheats is quicker.

“We must continue this path,” he added. “There is no other way possible.”


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