Oyonnax: Lance Armstrong should be handed back his seven Tour de France titles, according to 12 of the 25 surviving winners of cycling’s biggest race.
As this year’s Tour reached the Rhone-Alpes region of eastern France on Wednesday, with an 11th stage from Besancon to Oyonnax, a Dutch newspaper published the results of a survey it conducted with the surviving winners of the race.
Only Ferdi Kubler and Roger Walkowiak failed to respond, and of the remaining 23 more than half were of the opinion that the disgraced American should be rewritten into the history books.
After years of denials and lawsuits, Armstrong was eventually brought down when the United States Anti-Doping Agency published its so-called reasoned decision, in which it accused the seven-time champion and his US Postal team of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.
Armstrong, who had already been issued a lifetime ban from all sports that adopt the World Anti-Doping Agency code and stripped of his seven Tour titles, subsequently confessed.
Those who felt that Armstrong should keep his titles were generally of the older generation, riders such as Felice Gimondi, Federico Bahamontes, Jan Janssen and 1980 winner Joop Zoetemelk.
Of the more recent winners only Andy Schleck and Oscar Pereiro felt Armstrong should keep his wins, with Schleck, who won his 2010 title after Alberto Contador tested positive, saying:
“Who remembers who was second place in those races? I wouldn’t know myself. You can’t have seven races without a winner, so just leave Armstrong on the list.”
Armstrong himself was contacted by the newspaper for a reaction but said he would “keep it to myself for now”.