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LAS VEGAS (VN) — Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain called the dark clouds over professional cycling “sad” on Thursday, and said he wasn’t sure what should happen to Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour titles.
Indurain, best known for his methodical dominance and unmatched diesel engine, won five Tours from 1991-1995, and pulled off the vaunted Tour-Giro d’Italia double in 1991 and 1992. He’s one of four men to have won the Tour five times, sharing the honor with Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.
Should Armstrong officially lose his Tour wins, as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency ruled last month, Indurain would be the most recent five-time Tour champion. The Spainiard was in Las Vegas during the Interbike tradeshow this week to promote a local gran fondo.
“It’s very sad,” Indurian told VeloNews. “Something like this is — it’s not very clear — the image of cycling is being ruined.”
It appears likely that Armstrong, who recently dropped the fight to clear his name of a litany of doping charges, will lose his Tour de France titles once USADA hands over its case file to the UCI. The agency has argued that its lifetime ban and nullification of his results between August 1998 and 2010 take effect regardless of UCI involvement because Armstrong forfeited his right to arbitration.
The business of reassigning Armstrong’s title is messy. Nearly every Tour podium finisher during Armstrong’s seven-year rein have themselves been implicated in doping scandals. On the subject of Armstrong’s titles, Indurain was unsure of the proper action to take.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Everything needs to be studied so we know what’s going on.”
Asked what could be done to chart a cleaner future for the sport, Indurain suggested cooperation.
“We work. We set the rules. We work directly with the federation and the other [organizations]. And we work together with cyclists,” he said.
Indurain was short on details, but clearly feels the scandal that continues to loom over cycling is damaging the sport he dominated for half a decade.