October 26 - Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005 will be left blank in the history books after he was stripped of the titles for doping this week, the Management Committee of the International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced following its meeting in Geneva today.
The move comes after the UCI announced on Monday (October 22) that it would not appeal the decision taken by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to strip Armstrong (pictured top) of his titles and ban him from the sport.
The UCI has also "called on Armstrong and all other affected riders to return the prize money they had received".
In addition, the UCI made two more major announcements following the meeting.
The first is that it will "establish a fully independent external Commission to look into the various allegations made about UCI relating to the Armstrong affair".
The second is that it will "seek to suspend the UCI legal action against journalist Paul Kimmage, pending the findings of the independent Commission".
"UCI President Pat McQuaid and Honorary President Hein Verbruggen who are individual parties to the case will similarly seek to put their cases on hold," added a statement.
The UCI was looking to sue Kimmage after saying "their reputation has been seriously damaged" by the Irish journalist, mainly in articles published in The Sunday Times and French newspaper L'Équipe.
However, the announcement today means Kimmage may never face further legal action on the issue.
"As I said on Monday, UCI is determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport," said McQuaid following the meeting today.
"We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the independent Commission and we will put cycling back on track.
"Today, cycling is a completely different sport from what it was in the period 1998-2005.
"Riders are now subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport.
"Nevertheless, we have listened to the world's reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and have taken these additional decisive steps in response to the grave concerns raised."
The UCI statement said that the drastic moves today had come after the governing body for cycling decided on "a number of critical measures in the wake of the USADA 'Reasoned Decision' on Lance Armstrong".
"The Committee acknowledged that decisive action was needed in response to the report," said the statement.
"With respect to Lance Armstrong and the implications of the USADA sanctions which it endorsed on Monday 22 October, the Management Committee decided not to award victories to any other rider or upgrade other placings in any of the affected events.
"The Committee decided to apply this ruling from now on to any competitive sporting results disqualified due to doping for the period from 1998 to 2005, without prejudice to the statute of limitation.
"The UCI Management Committee acknowledged that a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period – but that while this might appear harsh for those who rode clean, they would understand there was little honour to be gained in reallocating places."
The statement revealed that the independent external Commission to investigate the UCI will be announced next month "with a view to their report and recommendations being published no later than 1 June 2013".
The announcements from the UCI are undoubtedly drastic attempts from McQuaid and Verbruggen to stay in power in the face of mounting criticism but it is unclear if it will be enough following the doping allegations that have rocked cycling.
America's three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond has become the latest high profile figure to attack the UCI, venting his fury at specifically at McQuaid.
"I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling's history," said LeMond in an open letter on Facebook.
"Resign, Pat, if you love cycling.
"Resign even if you hate the sport.
"The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen – if this sport is going to change it is now.
"Not next year, not down the road, now!
"Now or never!
"People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling."
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