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Jan Ullrich says Lance Armstrong Tour victories should be reinstated: "That’s how things were"

German doper says American doper should be recorded as beating all the other dopers

German former pro cyclist Jan Ullrich, winner of the 1997 Tour de France, says that Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories should be restored.

Ullrich was Armstrong’s great rival during much of the American’s 1999-2005 run of Tour wins, and came second to him three times.

After the US Anti-Doping Agency found that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs through the entire period, he was stripped of all his victories, including his Tour wins.

“If it were up to me, I’d give Armstrong back his victories in the Tour,” Ullrich told German news magazine Bild.

Ullrich pointed out that it would not be the first time a Tour winner has had his title removed then restored. Bjarne Riis - now owner of the Riis Cycling team currently sponsored by Saxo Bank and Tinkoff Bank - had his 1996 victory stripped after he admitted doping, then restored a year later.

Riis and Ullrich were team-mates at the Telekom team at the time, and Ullrich’s support of Riis in that 1996 Tour saw him finish second overall. The following year the roles were reversed as Riis turned super-domestique and supported Ullrich to his only Tour win.

Both riders, most of their team-mates and just about every other significant pro cyclist of the era have since admitted doping.

“Bjarne Riis was given back his victory from 1996. That’s how things were at the time. It’s not helping anyone to have lines struck through the roll of honour.”

Acknowledging the issues of the time, the Tour de France organisers and cycling’s governing body the UCI have not nominated anyone as the winner of the Tours stripped from Armstrong.

Ullrich made it clear he does not want to be considered the winner of the Tours in which he was originally the nominal runner-up.

“I just want the victories that I obtained on the bike. I don’t want to win anything by default.”

Ullrich was one of the riders who came under suspicion in 2006 when Opercion Puerto uncovered the blood doping services provided by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

In June he admitted being a client of Fuentes.

“But I’d said that already a thousand times. There was nothing new in that,” he said.

When asked why he had not come clean about his use of performance-enhancing drugs before, Ullrich simply said: “I decided differently. In hindsight, perhaps I would have done some things differently. But I am no god that can see everything and do everything right.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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RussFar66 | 10 years ago
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Give Them back to LA and draw a line under it all, and impose life time bans from now on  4

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700c | 10 years ago
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It's certainly hypocritical of the powers-that-be to apply sanctions unequally -whether it's stripping results selectively, applying bans to some but not others, idolising French dopers but demonising American ones!

I am pleased to see more people coming round to this way of thinking, but when I dared to make this point last year in the wake of the Armstrong revelations, I was comprehensively shot down and accused of being some Armstrong 'fanboy'!

We need a whole truth and reconciliation process.

You either accept the capacity for dopers to repent, change and seek forgiveness, or you adopt complete zero tolerance. In light of the Armstrong vilification, it angers me to see Contador, a doper of the modern era, still competing.

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Colin Peyresourde replied to 700c | 10 years ago
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700c wrote:

It's certainly hypocritical of the powers-that-be to apply sanctions unequally -whether it's stripping results selectively, applying bans to some but not others, idolising French dopers but demonising American ones!

I am pleased to see more people coming round to this way of thinking, but when I dared to make this point last year in the wake of the Armstrong revelations, I was comprehensively shot down and accused of being some Armstrong 'fanboy'!

We need a whole truth and reconciliation process.

You either accept the capacity for dopers to repent, change and seek forgiveness, or you adopt complete zero tolerance. In light of the Armstrong vilification, it angers me to see Contador, a doper of the modern era, still competing.

I think you are missing a massive point with Armstrong, and that is the hypocrisy with which he dominated the sport.

But ultimately I think what they have done is right. The biggest winner from doping is punished in the biggest way.

The argument about what to do with the other dopers is a different question. I'm sure they could retest all their blood tests and see if they come up with a negative result.....but that would be expensive. Like I keep saying, dopers dope to win, so it's likely that that not only is the first placed rider doped, but those he 'narrowly' beat also. Occassionally I think a rider might just shade a classic 'pain e aqua', but the conditions have to be just right.

If you make an example of an individual, and Armstrong is prime candidate (any winner is, which is why testing of a stage winner is mandatory), it dissuades people from doping. They say 'is it worth it, even if I get away with it now, later on I may get busted'. True, the likelihood of this increases the more they retrospectively test and bust winners of small events, but it dissuades the sort of orchestrated doping and dominance of Armstrong because once you stick you head over the parapet the more likely it is to be shot off.

I do think that in combination with the blood passport and the revalations of the last year riders are less keen to dope - performances have been more 'human' than in other years. But if seven years are left blank as a warning to cyclists then so be it.

The main problem with Armstrong is that he took so much dope we will never know what sort of rider he would have been post-cancer therapy, we know that he sucked before that though. His record as a pro in the peloton was risable - and evidence shows (Kimmage's report) that he was doping before he was diagnosed...in the year he was world champion no less. The boost of steroids and EPO created a monster - just like it did with Pantani. Perhaps all you can say is that other cyclists were not as ruthless in their doping. Armstrong was certainly not a climber by build, but yet achieved unthinkable performances going uphill.

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GerardR | 10 years ago
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Wouldn't this just reward the non-doping, even if they were a minority? I think that restoring the titles would dishonour the courage of those who spoke out.

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Some Fella | 10 years ago
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Ullrich is a dick and his comments should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

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graham | 10 years ago
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Striking a line through Armstrongs victories in the TdF will achieve nothing. Has achieved nothing. In the minds of cyclists, he will always be the rider who finished first in the TdF more times than anyone else in history. "But he doped", they will say, and that's true.

SO DID EVERYONE ELSE.

So it was a level playing field. He simply was either a better cyclist, trained harder, was better supported, or responded better to the drugs than others.

I applaud and wholeheartedly agree that the sport should be drug free, and hopefully it is. Or maybe current riders have better technology and are better able to hide doping, or perhaps there are new potions that aren't (currently) illegal? It doesn't matter. Any advantage an individual has will be short-lived.

Anti-doping organisations are needed if only to protect the rides from themselves and their doctors, and their work should continue. But a big line should be drawn under the doping era of professional cycling, and people should accept it happened, and move on.

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The Rumpo Kid replied to graham | 10 years ago
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graham wrote:

Striking a line through Armstrongs victories in the TdF will achieve nothing. Has achieved nothing. In the minds of cyclists, he will always be the rider who finished first in the TdF more times than anyone else in history. "But he doped", they will say, and that's true.

SO DID EVERYONE ELSE.

So it was a level playing field. He simply was either a better cyclist, trained harder, was better supported, or responded better to the drugs than others.

I applaud and wholeheartedly agree that the sport should be drug free, and hopefully it is. Or maybe current riders have better technology and are better able to hide doping, or perhaps there are new potions that aren't (currently) illegal? It doesn't matter. Any advantage an individual has will be short-lived.

Anti-doping organisations are needed if only to protect the rides from themselves and their doctors, and their work should continue. But a big line should be drawn under the doping era of professional cycling, and people should accept it happened, and move on.

It was NOT "a level playing field" (How many times?). Different people react differently to drugs, and Armstrong had the UCI in his corner.

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graham replied to The Rumpo Kid | 10 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:

It was NOT "a level playing field" (How many times?). Different people react differently to drugs, and Armstrong had the UCI in his corner.

As I said - maybe he "responded better to the drugs," but I sincerely don't think this is a consideration. If no-one took drugs, you'd find some riders were better than others simply because of their physiology. That's the nature of athletes. The drugs have tilted the scales in favour of those taking them.

Did the UCI only turn a blind eye to Armstrong, or were samples from other riders 'processed' similarly? I think they must have been. Armstrong may have held more sway with the UCI, but that was probably as much a tactical decision as anything that happened during a race. Other riders could have benefited in the same way, had they approached the 'problem' of the UCI differently, and may have benefited as a result of Armstrong's interaction anyway.

I'm not defending Armstrong. He cheated. But (leaving aside his unprecedented success) let's please try to maintain a little perspective - it is likely (almost to the point of certainty) that everyone was cheating. Armstrong was more successful than most, and as such has been made a scapegoat. If you only follow mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking he was on superman drugs and no-one else had ever taken as much as an aspirin. (OK... I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.)

Are others going to have their stored blood samples retested? It has been asked, but there's no indication it will happen. Will others, who are absolutely, categorically and definitely KNOWN to have doped be stripped of their titles? Were they reacting better to their drugs than their competitors, or were they the better cyclist on the day?

The playing field was as level as it could be. The punishments are not being delivered in the same manner.

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The Rumpo Kid replied to graham | 10 years ago
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graham wrote:

The punishments are not being delivered in the same manner.

And who's fault is that? If Armstrong had accepted USADA's authority in the matter of his doping, the worst he could have got was a two year ban. He just withdrew from the process, and continued lying, receiving a life ban for his trouble.
The punchline is that this enables his remaining supporters to claim victimisation.

And if doping is acceptable on the grounds that two wrongs make a right, should Landis and Contador have their TdFs reinstated? I don't hear anyone calling for that.

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giobox replied to graham | 10 years ago
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graham wrote:
The Rumpo Kid wrote:

It was NOT "a level playing field" (How many times?). Different people react differently to drugs, and Armstrong had the UCI in his corner.

As I said - maybe he "responded better to the drugs," but I sincerely don't think this is a consideration. If no-one took drugs, you'd find some riders were better than others simply because of their physiology. That's the nature of athletes. The drugs have tilted the scales in favour of those taking them.

Did the UCI only turn a blind eye to Armstrong, or were samples from other riders 'processed' similarly? I think they must have been. Armstrong may have held more sway with the UCI, but that was probably as much a tactical decision as anything that happened during a race. Other riders could have benefited in the same way, had they approached the 'problem' of the UCI differently, and may have benefited as a result of Armstrong's interaction anyway.

I'm not defending Armstrong. He cheated. But (leaving aside his unprecedented success) let's please try to maintain a little perspective - it is likely (almost to the point of certainty) that everyone was cheating. Armstrong was more successful than most, and as such has been made a scapegoat. If you only follow mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking he was on superman drugs and no-one else had ever taken as much as an aspirin. (OK... I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.)

Are others going to have their stored blood samples retested? It has been asked, but there's no indication it will happen. Will others, who are absolutely, categorically and definitely KNOWN to have doped be stripped of their titles? Were they reacting better to their drugs than their competitors, or were they the better cyclist on the day?

The playing field was as level as it could be. The punishments are not being delivered in the same manner.

It really wasn't a remotely level playing field at all. Thanks to the UCI's 50% hematocrit limit that was used due to no EPO test existing back then, it meant that riders with naturally low hematocrit levels were able to take more EPO than those riders who were naturally close to the limit. This is one of many reasons, the idea that all these dopers were competing equally is a myth that has been debunked countless times.

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Leviathan | 10 years ago
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Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean? Indurain, Riis, Ullrich, Pantani, Armstrong, Landis, Contador, Rasmussen*. The post Armstrong era saw a lot of hand me down winners and everybody before is now know to be a doper. I don't know enough about the 60s-80s era but have heard about Lemond's doctors 'Iron booster injections.'

I am tempted to thing the sport has never been clean until now and the only way it has been cleaned up is because of new technological replacements for chemical boosters. At least technological methods are more honest and reward investment even if it is an equipment arms race. Of course the argument could be made that this is unfair to poorer nations; though it has seen benefits for British riders. It isn't F1 yet but the percentages are there to be had.

*Didn't get to the finish but was going to win.

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The Rumpo Kid replied to Leviathan | 10 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean? Indurain, Riis, Ullrich, Pantani, Armstrong, Landis, Contador, Rasmussen*. The post Armstrong era saw a lot of hand me down winners and everybody before is now know to be a doper. I don't know enough about the 60s-80s era but have heard about Lemond's doctors 'Iron booster injections.'

I am tempted to thing the sport has never been clean until now and the only way it has been cleaned up is because of new technological replacements for chemical boosters. At least technological methods are more honest and reward investment even if it is an equipment arms race. Of course the argument could be made that this is unfair to poorer nations; though it has seen benefits for British riders. It isn't F1 yet but the percentages are there to be had.

*Didn't get to the finish but was going to win.

Why do you think the sport is clean now? This year's Giro seems to indicate otherwise.

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Simon E replied to Leviathan | 10 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean?

Greg LeMond - 1986, 1989, 1990
Carlos Sastre - 2008

Neither has ever been linked to doping, which is as near to 'knowing' as you'll get.

As for the "level playing field", the answer is no. It has been shown repeatedly that doping does not create a level playing field - partly because each individual reacts differently but also due to dosing and varying levels of knowledge/expertise. Some would only use EPO (and then only some of the time), others may also use HGH, Cortisone etc etc. while Armstrong repeatedly made the whole team do whatever shit he thought they should in order to win. He ensured the playing field in his Tours was anything but 'level'!

While Jan has a point, and part of me thinks it's reasonable, but it's only his opinion. It's up to the organisers and sport's administrators to decide what should be done.

@Rumpo - are you saying Nibali is a doper? You're in a very small minority.

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The Rumpo Kid replied to Simon E | 10 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

@Rumpo - are you saying Nibali is a doper? You're in a very small minority.

Who mentioned Nibali? I was thinking of Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio, and Sylvain Georges actually.

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Colin Peyresourde replied to Simon E | 10 years ago
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Simon E wrote:
bikeboy76 wrote:

Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean?

Greg LeMond - 1986, 1989, 1990
Carlos Sastre - 2008

Neither has ever been linked to doping, which is as near to 'knowing' as you'll get.

As for the "level playing field", the answer is no. It has been shown repeatedly that doping does not create a level playing field - partly because each individual reacts differently but also due to dosing and varying levels of knowledge/expertise. Some would only use EPO (and then only some of the time), others may also use HGH, Cortisone etc etc. while Armstrong repeatedly made the whole team do whatever shit he thought they should in order to win. He ensured the playing field in his Tours was anything but 'level'!

While Jan has a point, and part of me thinks it's reasonable, but it's only his opinion. It's up to the organisers and sport's administrators to decide what should be done.

@Rumpo - are you saying Nibali is a doper? You're in a very small minority.

I must say that Lemond's admission to an 'iron' injection gives me great disquiet. I don't like to think he doped at all, but given:

1. the US team at the 84 Olympics all did blood doping (it wasn't banned back then).
2. Stephen Roache was working with Conconi, and the beginnings of the 90s science revolution were beginning in the 80s.

I don't want to set too much stall in him, though I admire the way he stood up to Armstrong, 86' was a classic and 1989's victory against Fignon a classic of drama.

.....I certainly wouldn't put an stall against Sastre.

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37038 replied to Simon E | 10 years ago
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Simon E wrote:
bikeboy76 wrote:

Hinault? Okay IS there anyone, ANYONE who crossed the line first before 2011-Cadel Evans known to be clean?

Greg LeMond - 1986, 1989, 1990
Carlos Sastre - 2008

Neither has ever been linked to doping, which is as near to 'knowing' as you'll get.

As for the "level playing field", the answer is no. It has been shown repeatedly that doping does not create a level playing field - partly because each individual reacts differently but also due to dosing and varying levels of knowledge/expertise. Some would only use EPO (and then only some of the time), others may also use HGH, Cortisone etc etc. while Armstrong repeatedly made the whole team do whatever shit he thought they should in order to win. He ensured the playing field in his Tours was anything but 'level'!

While Jan has a point, and part of me thinks it's reasonable, but it's only his opinion. It's up to the organisers and sport's administrators to decide what should be done.

@Rumpo - are you saying Nibali is a doper? You're in a very small minority.

@bikeboy76 - Sastre, Evans, LeMond but no one's mentioned Indurain?? I know he did test + for Salbutomol in '94 but was given exception by the UCI

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The Rumpo Kid | 10 years ago
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Hinault? Four times?

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millskid | 10 years ago
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I agree with Ullrich, armstrong has been singled out in my opinion. Why does pantani still get to keep his titles, a massive doper. Bernard Hinault was caught doping 4 times I think and he was on the podium with froom!!!!!

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monty dog | 10 years ago
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This argument fails to acknowledge that some riders respond better to drugs than others plus Armstrong had access to 'treatments' few others can afford, notwithstanding he was paying-off the UCI and others to avoid being tested.

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Tony replied to monty dog | 10 years ago
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So what if some riders respond better to drugs or can afford better drugs? Some riders respond better to training than others. Some teams can afford better bicycles and technology than others - Sky and British Cycling being two good examples. Its never going to be a level playing field even if its completely drugs free. If it was I would be a contender for a TdeF victory. Instead I'm resigned to puffing up the hills last in the local leisure rides.

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TeamCC | 10 years ago
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It wouldn't be so bad to put Lance and other's names in the books. Have an asterisk next to their name. It looks really bad having so many top spots empty. If someone saw the 7 marked out section and didn't know about it they would look it up. Put Lance's name in there and it becomes less of a Streisand effect. Anyways, in a massive doping era, to come out top seven times is still amazing.

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doc | 10 years ago
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Ullrich can easily make statements now, in fact he had no idea of whether there were clean riders racing, and at this time interval all we have is his word that they were all at it, credible it may be but if it ever came to a court, no proof. Just circumstantial evidence and hearsay. No one is going to confess anyway if they don't have to. Best now let things stay as they are, Armstrong was picked out because of his 7 "wins" no doubt.
The era is gone, a few from then are left around, and perhaps the concentration would be better on those who are known offenders and remain in positions of influence. On the matter of bending the rules, there's a bloke in Aigle who started that years ago in South Africa!

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crazy-legs | 10 years ago
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Quote:

How about as new award Highest Documented Clean Rider.

Might want to revise that to:
"Highest rider who, at time of writing, had not yet been caught"

 3

Quote:

I agree with Ullrich - his tour victory should be removed as well.

Either you strip every doper ever caught of ALL their victories or you just leave it alone. You can't try doing both. Can't strip LA of his but leave Pantani, Ullrich, Riis, Virenque, Zabel free to walk off.

Everyone or no-one. And if you're going to do the stripping victories thing, there's going to be one hell of a lot of blank pages in the next Tour history book...

[commentator]"And the stage winner is Cippolini, oh no, Zabel! Oh no, he was at it too. Err, Abdoujaparov! No. Bollocks. Err..."[/commentator]

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Dropped replied to crazy-legs | 10 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:
Quote:

How about as new award Highest Documented Clean Rider.

Might want to revise that to:
"Highest rider who, at time of writing, had not yet been caught"

 3

Quote:

I agree with Ullrich - his tour victory should be removed as well.

Either you strip every doper ever caught of ALL their victories or you just leave it alone. You can't try doing both. Can't strip LA of his but leave Pantani, Ullrich, Riis, Virenque, Zabel free to walk off.

Everyone or no-one. And if you're going to do the stripping victories thing, there's going to be one hell of a lot of blank pages in the next Tour history book...

[commentator]"And the stage winner is Cippolini, oh no, Zabel! Oh no, he was at it too. Err, Abdoujaparov! No. Bollocks. Err..."[/commentator]

Couldn't agree more, and if the UCI were to strip every rider who doped of every title there would be no history what-so-ever. If anyone thinks all the greats - Anquetil, Merckx, Coppi, Indurain, Hinault never doped they are sadly deluded. Everyone doped and it was a level playing field so get over it. However I am glad that doping is becoming a thing of the past as the long term harm it can do to riders is very clear.

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Leviathan | 10 years ago
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I interpret this as 'I was just as dirty as Armstrong but still couldn't beat him.' Makes you wonder if a clean Armstrong would have beaten Ullrich or the next best clean rider anyway. Level playing field and all that. The crime is that we can never know. So is there any merit in having a blank space on wikipedia when we all know what happened. How about an asterix.

How about as new award Highest Documented Clean Rider.

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stefv | 10 years ago
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I agree with Ullrich - his tour victory should be removed as well.

I think rules/retribution should be applied equally, but I understand why some people may feel different about Lance who had more than just one tour victory, he was the record multiple time winner and was high up on the list of stage victories too.

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Colin Peyresourde | 10 years ago
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Hmmm, so what punishment is there for doping?

The point of removing the titles is to expurgate the benefits if cheating, otherwise you're just saying its fine to dope if you get away with it at the time, and IT IS NOT OK! So what, in ten years time, we find out that all the other winners were doping we just forgive them and move on. The problem is that anti-doping is not effective and unless we have retrospective action then the pros won't think twice about doping.....look at this way, dopers dope to win, not come second, so there's the highest likelihood that the winners will be cheaters and unless you create the jeopardy of retrospective action then once they've won that's it. If you sow the seed of doubt about being caught it may just make the sport a cleaner place.

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The Rumpo Kid | 10 years ago
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I would suggest the difference between Armstrong and all the others is that Armstrong's "donations" to the UCI meant the risk of discovery (geddit?) was less for him. To put it bluntly, everyone else was not bribing Hein and Pat. (Unless Jan knows something we don't...)

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kohakumark | 10 years ago
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Ullrich pointed out that it would not be the first time a Tour winner has had his title removed then restored. Bjarne Riis - now owner of the Riis Cycling team currently sponsored by Katusha - had his 1996 victory stripped after he admitted doping, then restored a year later.

Mmmm Katusha, i dont think so!  39
Lets try Saxo Tinkoff  3

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cyclingsi | 10 years ago
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"That’s how things were" Does not mean that it was right, cheating is still cheating even if most of the peloton was doing it.

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