Lance Armstrong is staring in to the abyss. After the Union Cycliste International (UCI) officially stripped him of his seven Tour wins that made him rich and famous, and banned him from the sport for life, his downfall is far from over.



The Texan reached out to the UCI’s president, Pat McQuaid in the final hours as he wanted to know just how far he was going to fall.



McQuaid explained how Armstrong had been in contact the previous Friday. “He heard we were having a press conference [and] sent me an SMS.” McQuaid explained. “I rang him and told him, ‘Yes. I’m having a press conference on Monday and we are announcing our result.’ He said, ‘What is that?’ And I said, ‘I can’t say. We are still working on it this weekend.'”



Armstrong has yet to comment officially, but hours after McQuaid read out the UCI’s decision, he changed his Twitter bio. His 3.7m followers now see, “Raising my 5 kids. Fighting Cancer. Swim, bike, run and golf whenever I can,” instead of, “Father of 5 amazing kids, 7-time Tour de France winner, full time cancer fighter, part time triathlete.”



Armstrong’s legacy went into freefall on August 24 when the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charged him with various doping offences. Knowing of the riders who had testified against him, Armstrong opted not to fight the charges in front of the public arbitration panel, calling the case a ‘one-sided witch hunt’. The agency revealed the full scale of his doped reign on October 10 when it published its 202-page Reasoned Decision on the internet after it sent an expanded version to the UCI.



Long-time sponsors who had stood by him through all previous allegations were shocked ,and quickly began to abandon the 41-year-old, retired since the 2011 Tour Down Under but still competing in triathlons. The Tour mountain stages of old were played in reverse, as one by one, big-money companies dropped Armstrong as the case’s momentum picked up speed. From Nike to (brewer) Anheuser-Busch, SRAM to Trek, to the last big one, Oakley, which made its decision after the UCI’s verdict.



Although the loss of sponsorship reduces Armstrong’s earnings (his net worth is currently estimated at $120 million), at the time of the UCI’s press conference, the USADA case was yet to cost him any money outside of legal fees.



With Armstrong’s reputation in tatters it was Tour de France organisers ASO who struck the first financial blow. “When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. The amount is estimated at $3 million. Although a Tour winner traditionally shares all their winnings out among their team mates, it would be their responsibility to pay the money back.



Later in the day the £8.5-million-blow came when SCA Promotions announced it was demanding the return of bonus payments. During his Tour run, US Postal management company Tailwind Sports took out a policy with SCA, where it paid a premium that saw bonuses paid for each Tour win. SCA held out payments after Armstrong’s sixth win in 2004 after hearing of doping allegations. Armstrong took legal action and won, partly because the policy did not include any doping clauses.



After the hearing, SCA paid Armstrong $7.5m million, which included a $5m bonus, legal fees and interest. Its total pay-out over the years, however, is reported to be around $12m (£8.5m). “We will make a formal demand for return of funds,” SCA’s lawyer, Jeffrey M. Tillotson told BBC Sport. “If this is not successful, we will initiate formal legal proceedings against Mr Armstrong in five business days [Monday, October 29].”



The Sunday Times is on Armstrong’s case, too, to recoup the reported £1m it paid in an out-of-court settlement. Armstrong sued the newspaper when for publishing extracts from LA confidential, written by David Walsh and Pierre Ballester.



Armstrong has yet to admit to any wrongdoing, saying at a Livestrong fundraising dinner last weekend that he’d had a ‘difficult week’, but things could get much tougher. His former manager Johan Bruyneel has chosen to fight the USADA charges in a public arbitration hearing in which Armstrong could be called as a witness to testify under oath.



Armstrong’s costs could continue to mount up. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010 that Landis used the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government. In this case he would have pointed out that Armstrong and Tailwind Sports defrauded the US Postal Service by agreeing to sponsorship contracts that stated doping would not be tolerated.



The case would recuperate the money for the US government and deliver a penalty up to three-times the amount. According to ESPN, US Postal Service gave $31.9m to the team from 2001 to 2004, which could see Armstrong and Tailwind paying up to $90m. According to the False Claims Act, Landis would be entitled to 15 to 30 per cent of the pie.



What will be Armstrong’s next move? “I don’t know, it’s up to him to decide, not me,” McQuaid explained. “It is a fair question, but I don’t want to give the answer because then I’m putting words in his mouth. … He knows the situation he is in, he knows the situation he put our sport in, it’s up to him to make any decisions he thinks that are relevant.”

  • Taras Stefanyszyn

    ” Armstrong and Tailwind paying up to $90m. According to the False Claims Act, Landis would be entitled to 15 to 30 per cent of the pie.”

    What the feck!

  • tony west

    I agree with every word from Kevin Davies, Why a life ban, what about all the others dating back to the begining, there were so many on something, simpson,pantani,anquetil,virenque, the festina team, so so many with out life bans, unless you count being dead, stop the witch hunt, or compleat the full deal and all the record books, it was the culture of the day, I nolonger believe or disbelieve, and unlike so many I dont jump off the sinking ship, my jacket will read, Lance Fan, I still have Yellow, he brought the world to cycling, media and big companies have all earned well out of this man, God Bless Lance.

  • John Bell

    I started cycling at the age of twelve, I’m now seventy one, still riding and totally obsessed with professional racing. Cycling has had this coming to it for decades, shall I list the icons dead before their mid-fifties?
    Sponsors should pull out and let this disgusting carcass rot in hell, they have been deceived as much as the loyal fans.
    A Phoenix will doubtless rise, it might take ten years, but by then the participants will have learnt that fans and sponsors alike have no stomach for liars and cheats.
    In the meantime I have absolutely no doubt that the good old fashioned spirit of amateurism will keep this fabulous sport alive.

  • phil tregear

    Richard:

    American Imperialism???? What people are interested in is the truth and how to get doping out of the sport. IF you bothered to read the USADA report ( like the UCI, TREK, NIKE , OAKLEY, WADA, ASO etc have), then you would see it is a very thoroughly researched piece, always supporting its conclusions by multiple sources of evidence. That is why LA isnt defending himself. That is why his sponsors have deserted him. That is why he will be sued by SCA and the Sunday Times ( amongst others). IF you take this issue seriously, then read up before coming to such a ridiculous conclusion. We should be eternally grateful for the bravery and fortitude of USADA , not carping on with xenophobic babble.

  • Richard Freeston-Clough

    There may not be many of us who believe Lance is innocent but I’m tired of the establishment telling us what to believe. The USADA wanted a scapegoat, the UCI don’t know what they want but seem to have almost bowed to American imperialism and many of today’s riders line up to condemn Armstrong because they think it is the only way they can stay true to their ‘clean’ records. This is the true shame for cycling.

  • Juan Garcia

    Anyone who has not cheated, throw the first stone!!!
    I care for the 5 children and the people around that guy. God does not permit a bad end to all this. Who knows what is in the mind of the texan. The truth coming out would be the best and if you Lance have to say so, as you say you care for raising your children, the truth once and for all, please say it. Keeping that indise of you will just trigger another cancer in you or in your family. If all is true, you may be living hell inside of you. I could not imagine living that.

  • BeSpoke

    PeterLB

    What makes you so sure. SCA’s contract was with Tailwind, not with Lance. In the court case, Lance testified but it was Tailwind that received the out of court settlement. If SCA want to retrieve their cash, they will have to sue Tailwind (if they are still in business). SCA may try to recover from the Tailwind shareholders, but they may be a limited company and anyway LA only held around 10% of the shares and so would only be liable for 10% if anything.

    He’s very rich … worth over $100m so the worst thing that could happen to him is if he had to do time for perjury… I’ll bet he’s more worried about that than anything else.

  • Mário Cales

    Livestrong Forever!

  • PeterLB

    BeSpoke, are you serious?!

    Armstrong will probably return the money before he even recieves the letter. There is no doubt whatsoever that he will have to repay that money. He wont even fight it.

  • Ian McPhee

    Beating cancer will seem like a breeze compared to the press hounds out to crucify Lance. As ‘Life of Brian’ says.”Nail some sense into him”.

  • BeSpoke

    Can’t see how SCA can claim anything back from Armstrong. The insurance policy to cover LA’s bonus payments was taken out by Tailwind Sports i.e. the owner of US Postal cycling team. By all accounts LA was a minority shareholder in that company but legal action by SCA would be against Tailwind which, if still in business, will be liable and will either have to pay up or go bankrupt. If, as is likely, Tailwind is/was a limited company, the shareholders are not liable. So LA will probably be able to slip the net on that one.

    He did however havre to take the stand and made statements under oath that could possibly be challenged and subsequently lead to a perjury charge.

  • James Anthony

    As an unwitting former fan embracing the truth, here’s my wider social/moral take on the Armstrong saga http://t.co/m8UfGSng

  • mr vegas on the black

    I want Lance to make a statement so we can all move on. Even if he admits wrongdoing I will still respect him. Pro cycling is the pits and he is just a scapegoat. I don’t believe the current crop are whiter than white either.

  • hugh anderson

    I THINK THAT THE MEDIA SHOULD BE INFORMED ABOUT THE CORRUPT WAY THIS USADA CROWD GO ABOUT THEIR WORK.AT NO POINT WAS THIS MENTIONED IN THE UCI PRESS REPORT ON MONDAY,TYGART MAY NOT BE LOOSING SLEEP,BUT I BET ITSTHE FIRST THING ON HIS MIND WHEN HE WAKES UP.
    IM GLAD HERE IN THE UK WE ABIDE BY THE RULES AND NOT LIVE BY THE COWBOY COURTS OVER THERE.
    AND I AGREE WITH ONE COMMENT WHY SHOULD WE WANT TO WATCH A TEAM WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN 6 MONTH SENTENCES FOR TRYING TO DRAG CYCLING INTO THE GUTTER.NO ONE IS TO BLAME APART FROM THE ONES THAT DOPED,2 YEARS MINIMUM.AND ALL THESE SPONSERS MADE A FORTUNE FROM LANCE TRECK NIKE AND THE REST BET THEY WONT PAY ANY MONEY BACK.
    ITS LIKE SOMEONE BREAKING INTO A HOUSE AND THE POLCE SAY”WHO DO YOU KNOW ELSE DOES THIS AND WE WILL LET YOU OFF”
    AND I WONDER WHAT OTHER SPORTS HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATED,AS IT APPEARS THAT USADA HAVE SPENT ALL THEIR MONEY AND TIME ON CYCLING,LET THEM HAVE THEIR 15 MINUTES OF FAME.
    I CANT WAIT UNTIL THE CYCLING SEASON BEGINS AND WE CAN ALL START TALKING ABOUT CYCLING AGAIN,LOOKING FORWARD TO ALBERTO,FROOME AND WIGGANS IN THAT ORDER.OH AND IS LEIPHEIMER HAMMILTON AND LANDIS PAYING THEIR MONEY BACK,OR BETTER STILL GIVE IT TO CHARITY.REMEMBER GUYS WE ALL HAVE KEEP CYCLING,AND SUPPORT IT.WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH ALL THIS BEFORE.

  • stuart jenkins

    I think lance should come clean and be totally honest with everyone, tell the plain truth & pay back all monies to all the organisations he has let down. He should then sink without a trace. The sport does not need fraudsters like him in it. We had the greatest season ever this year in cycling with London 2012 & the TDF wins from Wiggo, but the Armstrong saga has now took the gloss off of this. People like him and Savile bully those who dare to speak out with lawsuits, throwing their weight around and thinking they are untouchable.

  • William Hirst

    Why doesn’t Lance defend himself? He is just going along acting like nothing has happened while the entire world brands him a lair and a cheat. It is out of character for a man who has up until a few weeks ago had a reputation of fighting anything that tried to knock him down. His silence in itself is an act of guilt. If Lance has done nothing wrong, and if this is some kind of conspiracy, why doesn’t he do something to fight it?

  • Paul B

    ASO and the UCI made millions off the back of Armstrong who opened up the American market to them big time. The revenue from USA TV rights and sponsors coming into the sport because of Armstrong must have been huge – and all going into ASO and UCI pockets. Oakley have also made a mint by using Armstrong to flog their vastly over priced plastic sun glasses and Nike and Trek benefited from his success. Trek worked closely with Armstrong and his team to develop their bikes and would not be the firm they are today without him. So close was their liaison that I find it hard to believe they did not know what was alleged to have been going on.

    All the riders who have admitted to drug taking/blood doping should be banned for life as they were part of the problem. If the UCI is serious about having a clean sport then all those associated with the bad side of cycling must be thrown out; Riis, Contador, Miller etc. Only then can we be sure (as sure as we can be) that the bad old days have gone.

    I do hope Lance sits down and spills the beans on everything he knows and names names. In the meantime I shall enjoy watching road racing and riding my own bike for pleasure. I don’t have heroes – they generally have feet of clay – as recent events have proved. Cycling is a wonderful sport but it is only a game – a form of entertainment – and must be viewed as such. I feel that sport in general has been elevated to a level of importance that it does not deserve. I place sport alongside; films, pop concerts, TV programmes, stand up comics etc as just another branch of the entertainment industry.

    There is cheating in all sports; scoring goals with your hand in football and diving in the penalty area, match fixing in cricket, throwing boxing matches, illegal bits in Formula One…. you get the picture. Those of us who love cycling feel deeply about it but when I learn that my new grandson has a heart murmur and an old friend has cancer it puts things into perspective. I enjoyed Armstrong’s reign and often watch the DVDs of his TdF rides. I have the books and the photo’s and know that if he was doping then so was everyone else. When the UCI ask Hinault and LeMond to return their winnings maybe I’ll take them seriously.

  • PeterLB

    Aren’t they always, Ken?

  • RichardL

    I agree with Kevin Davies.

    The companies seeking refunds from Lance made great profits from being associated with him. Are they going to pay back the punters who bought into that? Are the TdF organisers going to pay back the royalties they received from TV companies for broadcasting those 7 editions of the TdF? The viewers were not watching a genuine competition as they thought, but instead a charade. Faulty Product? Refund

    However, what sickens me the most is the UCI. They clearly didn’t do enough to uncover the problem and now accept no part of the blame. that is where the greatest change needs to take place.

  • Ken Evans

    Looks like the lawyers will be the ultimate winner$.

  • Baz

    As in all good westerns the baddie hightails it over the border. Does anybody think the loot is sitting in the Austin branch of Wells Fargo waiting to be sequestered by SCA, The Sunday Times or anybody else?

  • Kevin Davies

    Lets all be honest are we surprised by the Lance Armstrong news, every cyclist was doping between the years he was winning the TDF, he the best of a bad bunch and performance enhancing was at epidemic levels.
    Who’s worse the guy who’s never failed a test or some losers who have and have spouted out to try and save there skins, lets be honest Lance gets a life ban and three others have been suspended for 6 months and will be racing again with Garmin next year!
    Whilst we are on the subject, Nike and Oakley now desert him after making fortunes off the back of him over the past ten years, again who’s worse, the deserter or the damned?
    It’s all very very sad for sport, for Lance for CHarity, unfortunately no one has won I just wonder why he deserves a life ban and others don’t???

  • Lancearmpong

    I can feel another book coming on………..

    “It’s not about the dope”.

  • John

    Terry, you’re absolutely right. Full disclosure is required from Armstrong. Why he did it, who helped him, who else was doped up, and even the payment to the UCI. The full story. It will help him as much as anybody to get it all out right now.

    Quaid was right that cycling it a crossroads again. But every time it seems to have ignored any of the turns and continued straight on. I thought it was fixed after Festina. Then there was Landis. Then Contador. How many more times does cycling have to be dragged through the mud?

    I want to believe in cycling again.

  • tony

    He should man up now and admit all while he can and not do a Landis/Hamilton and admit it years down the line.

  • dai bananas brother

    Armstrong, Savile, people punching goalkeepers in the face, whatever next. Just as well we can tune into ‘Cefn Gwlad’ each monday (S4C 2100hrs) where the marvellous Dai Jones mixes with a solidly honest and amusing collection of rural people. To say nothing of the livestock. There was a lovely cycling story concerning riding home from the pub in Senny Bridge late at night, nothing to do with the UCI at all.

  • Terry Wassall

    As far as Armstrong’s next move is concerned, one possibility if his life is ending up in ruins and he’s going to hell in a hand cart, is to drag as many others down with him as possible – a full confession along with a great deal of naming and shaming to spread the blame and guilt in order to portray himself as a victim of the system and the real networks of power in pro cycling. This could get a lot messier.