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Tour Runners-Up to Armstrong Tainted by Drug Accusations

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Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Five cyclists stand to inherit Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France wins after he is stripped of the titles by anti-doping authorities. Three of those cyclists have served doping bans and one may be probed.

Armstrong has been banned from the sport of cycling for life after refusing to fight drug allegations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, with the American saying it was pointless to fight a “witch hunt.”

Armstrong, 40, won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005, a record for the sport’s most prestigious race. He survived testicular cancer early in his career, and created Livestrong, a charity that has raised more than $470 million for the fight against cancer, according to its website.

Germany’s Jan Ullrich, winner of the Tour de France in 1997, finished second to Armstrong three times in 2000-2003. He was banned in February for two years and had results between 2005 and 2007 voided after being found guilty of blood doping.

Ullrich told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that he was proud of his second-place finishes and was giving no thought to Armstrong losing his titles.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, said at the time that the German’s DNA was matched to blood bags seized by police in a 2006 anti-doping investigation in Spain. He had also served a six-month ban for testing positive for amphetamines in 2002, which he said came from taking drugs on a night out.

Alex Zuelle, the runner-up to Armstrong in 1999, was part of the Festina team thrown out of the 1998 Tour after its coach was caught with banned performance-enhancing substances. The Swiss rider was banned for seven months after admitting taking the performance-enhancing drug EPO.

Basso Ban

Two years after finishing second in 2005, Italy’s Ivan Basso confessed to being part of a blood-doping ring in Spain, Italy’s Olympic authority said at the time. He served a two-year ban in 2007 and 2008 for “attempted doping” although he denied taking any.

Cycling News reported that the German national doping agency said it may open an investigation into whether three riders, including Germany’s 2004 second-place finisher Andreas Kloeden, used illegal doping or products.

Following is a list of the top-three finishers in the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005:

1999:
     Lance Armstrong, USA
     Alex Zuelle, Switzerland
     Fernando Escartin, Spain


2000:
     Lance Armstrong
     Jan Ullrich, Germany
     Joseba Beloki, Spain

2001:
     Lance Armstrong
     Jan Ullrich
     Joseba Beloki

2002:
     Lance Armstrong
     Joseba Beloki
     Raimondas Rumsas, Lithuania

2003:
     Lance Armstrong
     Jan Ullrich
     Alexandre Vinokourov, Kazakhstan

2004:
     Lance Armstrong
     Andreas Kloeden, Germany
     Ivan Basso, Italy

2005:
     Lance Armstrong
     Ivan Basso
     Jan Ullrich

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh in London at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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