If the USADA gets its way, Lance Armstrong will eventually be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005.His titles officially go to the riders who finished second in those races.
But the problem is many of the cyclists who runner-up to Armstrong have been convicted or accused of doping over the last decade.
In his seven titles, five different riders finished second to Lance — Alex Zulle, Jan Ullrich (3x), Joseba Beloki, Andreas Kloden, and Ivan Basso.
Zulle admitted to doping as part of the 1998 Festina Affair — the first big cycling doping scandal. But when he finished second to Armstrong in 1999, he had already confessed to doping and Armstrong called him a “clean rider.”
Ullrich was given a two-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February of 2012 in connection with a doping scandal called Operation Puerto. His races from 2005 to his retirement in 2007 were also vacated.
Kloden was connected with a 2006 doping program in Freiburg, Germany. He eventually paid a €25,000 fine — which technically isn’t an admission of guilt in German court. Yesterday, fittingly enough, the German National Anti-Doping Agency announced a preliminary investigation into Kloden and a few other riders on new doping suspicions.
Basso was also banned for two years in 2007 and 2008. According to the New York Times, he admitted that he “attempted doping,” but denied he ever actually succeeded.
Beloki has not been connected to any doping scandal.
This isn’t to say that what Armstrong allegedly did is OK. But the idea that stripping him of his titles will instantly reflect the “fair” result of those races isn’t quite that simple.
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