Lance must return winnings - Tour chief

Lance Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping allegations

Lance Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping allegations

First published in National Sport News © by

Disgraced Lance Armstrong could be forced to repay his Tour de France winnings after being stripped of his seven titles for doping offences.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme believes the race must not have a victor in the Armstrong years.

"The formal decision has to be taken by the UCI but for us, we must have a clean record. This period must be marked by the absence of winners," Prudhomme said. "The UCI rules are clear. When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back."

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, ratified the sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Armstrong was banned for life and all his results from August 1, 1998 removed, including his wins at the Tour from 1999 to 2005. The UCI management committee will meet on Friday to discuss the "exact sporting consequences" of the decision, including whether the titles and prize money will be re-distributed.

The International Olympic Committee will await Friday's UCI meeting and further information before a decision is made on the bronze medal Armstrong won in Sydney in 2000.

Armstrong, who battled back from cancer to return to professional cycling, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and refused to co-operate with the USADA investigation. The case could possibly still be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Armstrong or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

UCI president Pat McQuaid rejected calls for his resignation over perceived failures by the world governing body over the Armstrong affair, instead insisting cycling has a positive future and "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling".

Meanwhile, Armstrong has been asked to repay a disputed bonus payment. The 41-year-old received a bonus payment of five million US dollars after a legal battle with SCA Promotions, who had declined to pay the sum in the belief the American had doped to win his seven Tour titles.

Jeff Tillotson, lawyer for SCA Promotions, told Press Association Sport: "It is inappropriate and improper for him to keep those bonus amounts and we will be demanding them back and pursuing appropriate legal action if he does not return them."

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