Ramifications of Lance Armstrong losing his Tour de France Titles

While most media savvy cyclists will be well aware that Lance Armstrong is giving up defending himself against the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) and that this means the World Anti Doping Agency can strip him of his seven Tour de France wins a well as his Sydney Olympic Games Time Trial bronze and other victories since 1988 plus gets a lifetime ban, what does it all mean for Lance and for cycling?

With Lance’s announcement to stop defending himself against the USADA allegation it creates in interesting scenario that Armstrong is conceding without admitting to doping. On the one side it is a clear signal to his accusers that he is guilty of systematic doping and conspiracy charges; if he is clearly innocent why not allow proceedings to start and defend the allegation? On the other there is an element of doubt left in the minds of the public, there is no clarity, a man hounded so heavily surely has his limits as well?

The USADA however will release its evidence which will give the media and public another change to find how how damning and convincing their evidence is, which is said to include testimony against him from a number of former team-mates.

What does it mean to lose the seven Tour de France? Consider when Contador lost his title, it was a sad day for cycling and one of the most unsatisfying wins for Andy Schleck who was denied the glory and sponsor and media value that he would have on the first place on the podium. In he 1999 Tour de France it would mean the Swiss Alex Zülle of team Banesto gets the title but in 2000, 2001 and 2003 the disgraced Jan Ulrich of Telekom would be next in line. Looking through the ranks there are plenty of dopers and editing the history book will not necessarily right the wrongs.

A big message for cyclists, it will be harder to get through the system. Though it is often suggested that dopers are always ahead of the system with, for example, newer undetectable doping and strategies for detection, if anti-doping organisations and courts can go back, find and convict riders on past doping activity, then it is harder to escape the system. Though the USADA is only active in the United States and the USA Cycling body, as one of the most influential nations this surely sends a signal to other countries who are more protective of their athletes.

Another message is that doping processes and convictions need to be faster, it becomes a farce when it takes years until someone is banned. This says a lot for the power of Anti-doping agencies compared with national sports bodies, not to mention the UCI. While national sporting bodies can be understood for defending their countrymen such as with Alberto Contador, the UCI is a surprisingly closed organisation where more transparency and actual movements against doping would benefit the sport.

The biggest losers are the cycling fans.
Lance Armstrong is one of the most celebrated sports people in history, a man who is credited with bringing cycling to a general audience in America. His book, the resolved determination against allegations, the millions earned in sponsorship and the hundreds of millions raise for the LiveStrong charity foundation all a lie?

The cycling enthusiast well versed in the history of cycling knows that doping has always been a cancer of this sport though may show understanding because ‘that is how the system is’. But for the non-cyclist and the outsiders who have been drawn to the sport, this is biggest betrayal yet. It is the sport of cycling the potential of cycling in general that suffers. In Australia cyclists are on the receiving end of angry motorists and when the sport has a bad name, this is yet another argument against cyclists and cycling.

Credibility also plays a huge role in the ability to attract publicity, sponsorship and funding for the sport. The German team Milram was disbanded as the sponsor Milram could no longer continue support in a sports arena with so many doping issues. When professional road cycling looks bad it doesn’t help women’s cycling, amateur cycling and even other disciplines such as Mountain Biking or BMX, when a company looks at cycling as a tainted sport the more than just the professional road teams are affected.

Life will go on, cycling will take a hit and loose credibility. Perhaps because Armstrong’s last Tour de France win was six years ago it makes it easy to move on. But even in this years Tour, Frank Schleck, brother of Andy Schleck who won by default, was sent home for doping.

As cycling fans perhaps we should look towards organisations such as Bike Pure which promotes clean cyclesport. The more support that these organisations get, the more that the sport and the athletes hear this voice: bikepure.org

Photo © Eugene



Christopher Jones
About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

9 Responses to “Ramifications of Lance Armstrong losing his Tour de France Titles”

  1. Ken Scalley says:

    Good, thought provoking article. As a pedant one minor problem, he will “lose” his TDFs not “loose”.

  2. mark says:

    I love the “With Lance’s announcement to stop defending himself against the USADA allegation it creates in interesting scenario that Armstrong is conceding without admitting to doping. On the one side it is a clear signal to his accusers that he is guilty of systematic doping and conspiracy charges; if he is clearly innocent why not allow proceedings to start and defend the allegation? ”
    Lets say he does decide to defend the allegations and after a couple of years is proven innocent of them. It’s cost him several million dollars and as its not a legal court he won’t be awarded damages/costs. His supporters will still support him and his accusors/haters will still hate him so no gain there. The next effect is he loses millions of dollars and a couple of years of stress.

    • David Halfpenny says:

      I agree Mark. I don’t know or care if he did or didn’t dope, but I’m sitting here thinking to myself – “What if he is innocent?”. How do you go about proving that you’re not guilty?

  3. PETER MACDONALD says:

    Doping, smoking, drinking, etc, etc.
    There has been and will be somewhere, something that shall cause sport-type people to stand out within their chosen office of the “physical”. American Pro Football alone, sucks the supply of anobolic steroids available every year.
    No pro cyclist is capable of riding for 25,000 miles in training on average each year without some rejuvenation……then go racing…..youth and big balls can only take you so far.
    As long as the public have small brains and the “sports” system is geared towards providing big money gladiator style entertainment, cycling or any version of human activity, will always be drugs related.
    This current happy clappy “naughty” concept makes my skin crawl because the ingredient missing in all the debate is truth and honesty.
    Why not just admit that drugs are used in cycling, or in all arena’s of sport and get on with it?
    Nobody has any head or recognition for amateur sports because there’s no money or glory. Maybe drugs and winning/being the best is the price of this drug debate….it now appears so well embedded, then so be it.
    And lastly, legal beagles never loose, so by not defending oneself is the perfect way to keep your money out of their pocket.
    Good on you Lance.

  4. Brad says:

    If I were Lance I would do the same. I have read many articles on this and watched the Tyler Hamlilton 60minutes interview. If that’s what USADA are relying on then they are joking.

    Hamilton is a bitter man after not getting his chance to go for victory in the tour. I have never seen or read the damning evidence that USADA say they have. Makes me believe they have nothing and are seeking Armstrong to say something that they will twist around and use as proof.

    The man is a legend and always will be.

  5. Terry C says:

    So who do they give the wins to – - 47 place ?

  6. [...] the Lance Armstrong decided not to challenge the USADA I wrote an opinion piece titled Ramifications of Lance Armstrong losing his Tour de France Titles in which I speculated that the sport would loose credibility and affect positive media interest, [...]

  7. [...] loses and create an advantage for himself with clever PR, does this truly make up for the damage; to the cycling fans who believed, to the LiveStrong charity supporters; to clean cyclists who missed a fair chance; to young riders, [...]

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