Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme, left, is joined at the start… (Bas Czerwinski / AFP / Getty…)
If seven-time winner Lance Armstrong is stripped of his victories by cycling's governing body, the Tour de France will have no official winner from 1999-2005, according to Christian Prudhomme, the race's director.
Prudhomme told the Associated Press on Friday that the Tour de France will follow the lead of the International Cycling Union, which will decide by the end of October whether to accept the U.S. Anti-Doping Assn.'s lifetime ban and stripping of victories for Armstrong, who is accused of using performance-enhancing drugs and participating in a system of cheating.
Armstrong has denied the accusations, pointing to years of clean drug tests, but he did give up his court fight and final international appeal process this summer.
"What we would like is for there to be no winner in those years," said Prudhomme, who added that there was damning evidence for "a system and an era."
"The problems which occurred in the Armstrong years meant that progress has already happened," Prudhomme said. "Cycling today bears no resemblance to yesterday's cycling. The anti-doping fight of recent years was based on those problems and there has been considerable progress in recent years: Cycling has been a pioneer in areas such as targeted testing and the biological passport. Today, the cheats are caught, and caught more rapidly than before. We have to continue in this direction. There is no other way."
The USADA's case against Armstrong cost his former team manager, Johan Bruyneel, his job as general manager of RadioShack Nissan Trek. Bruyneel and RadioShack said the decision to part ways was mutual because he can "no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way."
Bruyneel, though, is continuing to fight USADA charges that he led a sophisticated program of blood doping and PED use.
In the past, the Tour de France would honor new winners if a former champion was stripped of his title. Andy Schleck was awarded the 2010 victory when Alberto Contador was stripped of his victory while Oscar Pereiro was selected champion after Floyd Landis was banned from the sport. Contador and Landis were both disqualified for doping violations.
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