UCI decision due Monday
AIGLE, Switzerland -- The final word on Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles could come Monday when cycling's governing body gives its response to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that paints the American as a longtime drug cheat.
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The UCI received USADA's 200-page report last week and has until the end of the month to decide whether to ratify USADA's decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour victories or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
USADA banned Armstrong for life and said he should lose his titles because of his involvement in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
The cycling body said Friday that UCI president Pat McQuaid will hold a news conference in Geneva on Monday.
The USADA report already has cost Armstrong key sponsors, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch. Armstrong also stepped down Wednesday as chairman of the Livestrong cancer charity he founded.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme is waiting on the UCI's decision before removing Armstrong's name from the record books as the race prepares to celebrate its centenary edition next year.
Armstrong won consecutive Tours from 1999-2005. Prudhomme said the Tour will have no official winners for the seven races Armstrong won if he is stripped of his victories by the UCI.
If Armstrong's victories are not reassigned there would be a seven-year hole in the 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.
USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong's era.
The agency said 20 of the 21 rider on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been "directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations" or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists "similarly tainted by doping."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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