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The UCI upholds USADA decision: Armstrong banned

In a press conference in Geneva today Pat McQuaid announced that the UCI has reviewed the USADA report and will not appeal their decision. Thereby they confirm the lifetime ban for Lance Armstrong and also that he will be stripped of all his seven Tour de France titles.

Harold Cunningham

In a pressconference that turned out to be very little about the actual USADA report and more a barrage of critical questions regarding the UCI's role in past and present anti-doping work, president McQuaid was initially very clear and convincing in his standpoint that he was shocked and disgusted with the extent of the USPS conspiracy and the lenghts riders had gone to in order to cheat the UCI and it's drugtesters.

Questions about the UCI's inability to deal with what was going on were fended off with the fact that they under the rules at the time were dependent on positive tests to act upon any riders. Their problem being that tests at the time were not as sophisticated as today and that riders and teams were clearly going to great lengths to cheat those tests. McQuaid also made clear that the UCI due to timepressures had so far only looked into the Armstrong parts of the USADA report and had not yet gotten to other riders and staff named in the report. That is to be handled later, in the case of some of the names he mentioned the possibility that they would be dealt with upon at the same time as the UCI looked into the coming report from the Padua investigation, where many of the same names are mentioned.

Pressed harder for some recognition that the UCI had failed on the job were re-buffed by an ever more flustred McQuaid. The answers were the same as ever before. There was no coverup of positive tests from the UCI, the money accepted from Armstrong had no connection to any such coverup, it was not wrong to accept donations from an athlete they were meant to police, the money was used to fight doping and was "put to good use". Also the UCI did not have the capacity to conduct police investigations and they did act upon the Landis-letters by making sure national federations looked into their people mentioned by Landis. In saying so he once again pointed out that they played a part in getting the USADA investigation started in the first place, something USADA have denied saying their investigation started before the UCI got involved.

Going forward McQuaid stated that a meeting of the UCI management committee on Friday would decide how to handle the practical matters of the USADA decision, what results would be affected, what to do with prizemoney etc. It would also discuss the wider ramifications of the report. What could be learned from it ? How are they to proceed with the other people mentioned in the report and so on. Sounded like kind of a lot to handle in one meeting. Perhaps they will reduce coffee-breaks to a bare minimum?

On the subject of the lawsuit against journalist Paul Kimmage, McQuaid did not back down even in the light of the USADA report. He refused to acknowledge the connection between the two things. According to him the lawsuit is a straight-forward defamation-suit based on Kimmage's repeated claims that the UCI is corrupt and had covered up positive test-results by Armstrong, something McQuaid once again denied was true. So the lawsuit is still very much on.