LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AFP) — The International Cycling Union (UCI) has hit back at statements made by the French Minister of Sports, Valerie Fourneyron, in an interview with Le Monde on Tuesday in which she said that the UCI must “take responsibility” and strip Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles.
“The UCI has expressed deep surprise at the statement by Ms. Fourneyron, which seems to dictate that the action be taken without knowledge of the case,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told AFP.
“There is no need to remind the UCI how to do it,” continued Carpani. “For now, we are still waiting for the file. And we have repeatedly said that we do not intend to use the Court of Arbitration for Sport unless the document review shows a significant problem.”
Armstrong was banned for life from competitive cycling by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which invalidated all his results since August 1, 1998, includuing his seven wins in the Tour.
But the jurisdiction of USADA is limited to U.S. territory, so it remains with the UCI to legally strip Armstrong of his victories from 1999 to 2005.
“I do not understand why the UCI does not withdraw the seven titles from Lance Armstrong. The UCI will have to take responsibility in relation to the conclusions of USADA,” said Fourneyron in Le Monde.
The UCI considers that the Minister has shown “the same [bias]” as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero when he felt that national champion Alberto Contador ought not to have been suspended for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.
According to the UCI, Fourneyron, who in 2013 will join the executive board of the World Anti-Doping Agency — which includes UCI president Pat McQuaid — “wanted to play the game even before entering the field.”