Tour de France Heir Says More Doping Offenders Left to Catch
Tour de France President Jean- Etienne Amaury said organizers will keep fighting the “plague” of doping in cycling two days after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his record seven titles.
Amaury didn’t mention Armstrong by name at the televised presentation of next year’s centenary edition.
Cycling’s ruling body Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI, on Oct. 22 endorsed a decision by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to strip Armstrong of his titles and banned the American from the sport.
“There have been dishonest people around the teams and sometimes inside the teams,” said Amaury, whose family has controlled the race since 1947. “Some have been caught by justice, others still have to be and that’s the responsibility of all the organizations in the sport.”
The Tour has been besmirched by doping scandals since 1998 when Richard Virenque’s Festina squad was thrown off the race after drugs were found in a team car.
Other Tour winners to lose titles for doping were Floyd Landis in 2006 and Alberto Contador in 2010. Twenty of the 21 riders to finish in the top three in the years Armstrong won between 1999 and 2005 have been “tied to likely doping” through admissions, sanctions, public investigations or exceeding the UCI’s hematocrit level, USADA said.
Defending champion Bradley Wiggins and 2011 winner Cadel Evans were among those at the presentation at the Palais des Congres in Paris. In comments on his website, Evans said that doping in cycling was no longer prevalent.
“I hope that people remember that the events being uncovered mostly occurred seven or more years ago, amongst a minority of those involved in a sport which has already changed and moved on,” Evans said.
The island of Corsica will host the first three days of the 2013 Tour that starts June 29.
Riders in the three-week race will climb the Alpe d’Huez twice in one day in the final week. A day before the finish in Paris, riders will have a stage that scales the Le Semnoz mountain in the Haute Savoie region.
Breaking from the norm, the finish in the French capital will be held under floodlights after nightfall.
Armstrong, 41, lost most of his sponsors including Nike Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Trek Bicycle Corp. last week after USADA published evidence from 11 former teammate that Armstrong “engaged in serial cheating” during his winning streak.
In other fallout, Dutch lender Rabobank Groep said last week it would pull its 15 million euros ($19.4 million) of annual spending on its Tour de France team.
Media company Lagardere SCA (MMB) owns 25 percent of Editions Philippe Amaury, the parent of race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation. ASO had average annual net income of 30 million euros in the six years through 2010, according to the group’s financial reports.
Most race sponsors including Europcar Groupe SA and Carrefour SA are French companies. The scandal is unlikely to have a significant impact on Lagardere partly because Armstrong has retired, Olivier Moral, a French media analyst at HSBC in Paris said in an e-mail.
“I’m not sure that the troubles experienced by Lance are really breaking news,” Moral said.
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