Lance Armstrong could have saved 5 of his 7 Tour de France wins by cooperating with the USADA

United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) lawyer Bill Bock said earlier this week that, had Lance Armstrong cooperated with the organization’s investigation, the cyclist only would have been stripped of two of his record seven Tour de France titles. In August, the USADA charged Armstrong with performance-enhancing drug use, banned him from competition in any sport that follows the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, and voided all titles won by Armstrong since August 1998.

Armstrong won his first Tour de France in 1999, less than three years after his final chemotherapy treatment for advanced testicular cancer.

The USADA’s eight-year statute of limitations only permitted the organization to strip Armstrong of wins dating back to 2004. But when Armstrong refused to cooperate, the USADA was able to waive the statute and eliminate not only the cyclist’s 2004 and 2005 Tour wins, but also his five Tour de France victories from 1999 through 2003.

Lance Armstrong would still have a record number of Tour de France wins, if he'd cooperated with the USADA. (Photo by Sandro Pace, AP)

Lance Armstrong would still have a record number of Tour de France wins, if he’d cooperated with the USADA. (Photo by Sandro Pace, AP)

Had Armstrong held on to five of his seven wins, he would have been tied with Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain for the most titles all-time.

For what it’s worth Anquetil famously said on French television, “Leave me in peace—everybody takes dope,” and suggested that it would be ridiculous to expect riders to compete in an event as grueling as the Tour de France without taking banned substances. Merckx, probably the greatest cyclist of all time when you consider his overall body of work, tested positive for banned stimulants three times.

To my knowledge, neither Hinault, nor Indurain has ever been implicated in doping, which is remarkable considering their respective accomplishments. Hinault is one of only five riders to win all three Grand Tours (the Tour de France, Giro D’Italia, and Vuelta a España), has 10 overall Grand Tour victories (second only to Merckx), and won a total of 28 stages in the Tour de France (again, second only to Merckx). Indurain dominated the Tour in the early 1990s, winning five in a row, along with two Giro D’Italia titles and an Olympic gold medal.

In related news, the United States Justice Department filed a case against Armstrong on Tuesday, charging that the cyclist defrauded the United States Postal Service. Armstrong rode for the Postal Service’s team from 1998 through 2004.

See also: “Government reveals its case against Lance Armstrong in whistle-blower case”—Suzanne Haliburton, Austin American-Statesman



About Josh Tinley

Josh Tinley writes the Away From The Action column at Midwest Sports Fans, covering all aspects of sport aside from what actually happens on the field, court, or track. Josh grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from the University of Evansville and Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports and the managing editor of LinC, a weekly curriculum for teens that explores the intersection of faith and culture. Josh lives outside Nashville with his wife, Ashlee, and children, Meyer (7), Resha Kate (5), and Malachi (3). He will not allow himself to die before the Evansville Purple Aces make another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter @joshtinley or send him an e-mail.

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    Not road, but rode…

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