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Armstrong stripped of tour titles
David Mark reported this story on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: Now to one of the most dramatic falls from grace in sporting history.

Overnight the International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and said he should be wiped from the sport's history.

The International body was acting on a report from the United States Anti-Doping Authority which blew the lid on Lance Armstrong and his "systematic doping".

The UCI has defended itself against accusations that it shouldn't have accepted gifts from the US cyclist.

But the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, John Fahey, says the UCI still has questions to answer.

David Mark has our report.

DAVID MARK: So now it's official. The greatest winner of the toughest sporting event in the world has been wiped from history.

The director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme.

CHRISTIAN PRUDHOMME (translation): The report by the USADA was damning. Lance Armstrong is no longer the winner of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. We want the list of prize winners of the Tour de France from those years to be left blank.

DAVID MARK: Now the Tour de France wants Lance Armstrong to pay back his prize money.

Money is one thing, credibility is something else.

The Tour now has a seven-year black hole in its record books thanks to an investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Two weeks ago the agency unmasked Lance Armstrong as a leader of the most "sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

Overnight the president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, confirmed that his organisation wouldn't appeal USADA's findings.

PAT MCQUAID: And that it will recognise the sanction that USADA has imposed. UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.

DAVID MARK: And what of the accusations that the UCI didn't do enough to police doping in the sport?

PAT MCQUAID: You've got to put yourself in the place or in the date when these activities were going on. These activities that we're talking about were between 1998/99 and 2005. Cycling has changed a lot since then.

What was available to the UCI at that time to confront situations like this was much more limited compared to what is there now.

DAVID MARK: But Pat McQuaid did admit the organisation shouldn't have accepted donations from Lance Armstrong that totalled more than 60,000 British Pounds.

PAT MCQUAID: That may, on reflection, have been a mistake but they did with the best of intentions and there's absolutely no question that there was any connection with the donation and preferential treatment for Lance Armstrong.

DAVID MARK: Maybe so, but the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, John Fahey, believes the UCI does still have questions to answer.

JOHN FAHEY: There was a period of time in which the culture of cycling was that everybody doped. There is no doubt about that. The administrators have to take some responsibility for that.

Is that period gone? That's something which I think the jury is out on and I think UCI are meeting this Friday to consider a number of aspects, including what their response must be going forward. The rest of the world who are sports lovers will watch with interest and I will too.

DAVID MARK: You say everyone doped - do you mean that literally? That everyone who was riding…

JOHN FAHEY: I'm saying that the evidence that was given by those riders who are team-mates of Lance Armstrong and one after the other, they said the same thing - that you could not compete unless you were doping.

DAVID MARK: USADA certainly said that there was a culture in the US postal team, but are you saying that that goes beyond that one particular team…

JOHN FAHEY: I'm telling you what the evidence was that was given by the riders to suggest that doping was widespread in the sport at the time when Lance Armstrong and his teams were part of that process.

DAVID MARK: The USADA report relied heavily on testimony from Lance Armstrong's former team-mates.

John Fahey readily concedes that drug testing alone isn't enough. He some sports people are still getting away with doping.

JOHN FAHEY: The simple fact is that unless you take a sample within close proximity to the time when one of the prohibited substances goes into the body of the athlete, you're not going to pick up that prohibited substance.

We've got an inquiry going on at the present time to see why our results are not showing what we believe is the level of doping that is in sport generally.

Are we effective? We believe that we've got to look at those results and say we're probably not catching as many as we should be catching, on the evidence that's there, that there are still many people doping.

DAVID MARK: Are we going to see other sports come clean, are we going to see these sort of revelations in other sports?

JOHN FAHEY: Well I hope so, if it's there I hope that ultimately it is exposed. It's happened in cycling. Does it exist in other sports? It well could. But I can't say which one or if there's any fact in that.

But I never to be surprised as what shows up in this particular area.

ELEANOR HALL: The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, John Fahey, ending David Mark's report.

You can listen to David's full interview with John Fahey on our website shortly.