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Tour de France: No winner for past Tours if UCI strips Lance Armstrong of titles

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 10:04 p.m. MDT

FILE - This is a July 24, 2005, file photo showing overall leader Lance Armstrong, of Austin, Texas, surrounded by press photographers, signaling seven,  for his seventh straight win in the Tour de France cycling race, prior to the start of the 21st and final stage of the race,  between Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris, and the French capital. The world may soon know what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has on Armstrong. USADA has said it had 10 former teammates ready to testify against Armstrong before he chose not to take his case to an arbitration hearing. The list likely includes previous Armstrong accusers Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.  (Peter Dejong, File, Associated Press) FILE - This is a July 24, 2005, file photo showing overall leader Lance Armstrong, of Austin, Texas, surrounded by press photographers, signaling seven, for his seventh straight win in the Tour de France cycling race, prior to the start of the 21st and final stage of the race, between Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris, and the French capital. The world may soon know what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has on Armstrong. USADA has said it had 10 former teammates ready to testify against Armstrong before he chose not to take his case to an arbitration hearing. The list likely includes previous Armstrong accusers Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton. (Peter Dejong, File, Associated Press)

PARIS — The Tour de France will have no official winner for the seven races from 1999-2005 if Lance Armstrong is stripped of his victories by the International Cycling Union.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Tour director Christian Prudhomme called the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's report on Armstrong "damning." It raises doubts, he said, about "a system and an era."

Tour officials are still waiting on the UCI's decision on whether to go along with USADA's decision to ban Armstrong for life and erase his racing results. A spokesman for the sport's governing body, Enrico Carpani, said it was "too early to say" what would happen. The UCI must decide by the end of the month whether to appeal USADA's ruling.

UCI President Pat McQuaid declined to comment on USADA's report but defended his organization's efforts to catch drug cheats.

The report cost Armstrong's former team manager, Johan Bruyneel, his job as general manager of RadioShack Nissan Trek. The team said Friday the decision was taken by "mutual agreement" and that Bruyneel "can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way."

FILE-This July 1, 1999 file photo shows American cyclists Jonathan Vaughters, left, and Lance Armstrong sharing a light moment during medical checks for the Tour de France cycling race at Le Puy du Fou, western France.  Vaughters testified that he saw Armstrong inject himself in the stomach in 1998 and that, FILE-This July 1, 1999 file photo shows American cyclists Jonathan Vaughters, left, and Lance Armstrong sharing a light moment during medical checks for the Tour de France cycling race at Le Puy du Fou, western France. Vaughters testified that he saw Armstrong inject himself in the stomach in 1998 and that, "from that point on, while I was on the U.S. Postal Service team, Lance was open with me about his use of EPO." (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File) (Associated Press)

The Belgian has his own legal battle with USADA and has opted for arbitration to fight charges that he led doping programs for Armstrong's teams.

If Armstrong's Tour victories are not awarded to other riders, that would leave a gaping seven-year black hole in Tour de France record books. It would also mark a shift in how Tour organizers treated similar cases in the past.

When Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory for a doping violation, organizers held a ceremony to award the race winner's yellow jersey to Luxembourg's Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory and a place in the record books after the doping disqualification of American rider Floyd Landis.

Prudhomme wouldn't address the differences in approach.

McQuaid said inadequacies in the anti-doping system were failing to catch drug-using athletes. The UCI tests athletes repeatedly for doping, he said, but the federation can do little if the results are negative. He insisted the anti-doping system had improved since the 1998-2009 period of Armstrong's career examined in the report.

For Frankie Andreu, the report offered relief. A former Armstrong teammate, he had previously admitted doping.

FILE-This Sept. 30, 2012 file photo shows David Zabriskie from the United States competes in the men's elite time trial at the World Road Championships in Geelong, Australia. After joining the U.S. Postal squad, Zabriskie broke his vow never to take drugs himself. He testified that team manager Johan Bruyneel,  the brains behind Armstrong's assaults on the Tour,  pushed him to dope with EPO and that a team doctor, Luis Garcia del Moral, administered his first shot of the blood-boosting hormone, in Spain in 2003. (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill, File) (Associated Press) FILE-This Sept. 30, 2012 file photo shows David Zabriskie from the United States competes in the men's elite time trial at the World Road Championships in Geelong, Australia. After joining the U.S. Postal squad, Zabriskie broke his vow never to take drugs himself. He testified that team manager Johan Bruyneel, the brains behind Armstrong's assaults on the Tour, pushed him to dope with EPO and that a team doctor, Luis Garcia del Moral, administered his first shot of the blood-boosting hormone, in Spain in 2003. (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill, File) (Associated Press)

"We're kind of getting to the end of this, where we can have some closure on this," Andreu said. "There's more riders, more people out there, talking about what happened in the past."

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