Lance Armstrong has announced that he will no longer fight charges brought against him by the US anti-doping agency. The USADA says it will ban him for life and strip him of his 7 Tour de France titles. Armstrong says that the USADA does not have the authority to do that.

My understanding is that the International Cycling Union (UCI) is in charge of professional cycling events, including the Tour de France. So what is the relationship between the UCI and the USADA (and other anti-doping agencies)? Who has the final say over banning and disqualifying cyclists?

3 Answers 3


It's a bit muddy and will probably ultimately be decided by the lawyers, but...

According to the John Fahey, the president of WADA:

"I am confident and WADA is confident that the USADA acted within the WADA code, and that a court in Texas also decided not to interfere," Fahey said in a telephone interview. "They now have the right to apply a penalty that will be recognized by all WADA code countries around the world."


And according to the WADA Code, it is the responsibility of international organizations:

20.3.9 To vigorously pursue all potential anti-doping rule violations within its jurisdiction including investigation into whether Athlete Support Personnel or other Persons may have been involved in each case of doping.

20.3.12 To cooperate with relevant national organizations and agencies and other Anti-Doping Organizations.


So according to WADA, the USADA does have the right to impose penalties and the UCI is bound by the WADA Code to comply with their findings. They can, of course, appeal to The Court of Arbitration for Sport. And they almost certainly will.

  • It's even muddier with the USADA apparently not complying with all aspects of the WADA Code, e.g. the USADA's investigation goes back beyond a statute of limitations specified in the Code, the USADA is supposed to provide their evidence to the UCI for review but hasn't done so... Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 17:18
  • I hadn't heard about the statute of limitations. All I can find in the WADA code is a clause about a "timely hearing," which is open to interpretation. Where'd you read about it?
    – jimchristie
    Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 18:37
  • I guess it's a USADA Statute, not WADA: freep.com/usatoday/article/… Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 7:31

The answer is no. The USADA is over reaching (even is they do have a solid case). The USADA'S authority only extends to the U.S. Olympic, Paralympic, Pan-American and ParaPan American sport. The USADA can only recommend to the UCI that the Armstrong's titles be stripped, and he be banned from professional cycling. It is doubtful that the UCI will accept the USADA ruling, given the UCI has already stated that the the USADA investigation is baseless and should be dropped.

As an aside, USA Cycling could strip Armstrong of his license, if it chooses to accept the USADA ruling. The Loss of his license, would prevent him from participating in sanctioned races. In my personal opinion, USA Cycling will follow the UCI lead.

  • What would they even do with the titles anyway? Give it the runner ups of those events he won? Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 23:27
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    Possibly, although Jan Ullrich (2nd in 2000, 2001 and 2003) was convicted of doping and all of his results nullified from 2005-2007. Beloki was implicated in Operacion Puerto (Although later cleared), Basso got a 2 year doping ban, Rumas, Vinikourov, Moreau, Hamilton, Leipheimer, Gonzalez, Virenque...all either received doping bans or were implicated.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 4:05
  • He's retired, so taking away his license would be purely symbolic. Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 15:13
  • I too at first thought the same especially after reading the UCI's press release from 04/08/12, however I read through some of the court documents from Armstrong's challenge to USADA authority and it doesn't look like that is the case. I also read the WADA letter to the UCI after the 04/08/12 press release (a 5 page letter included in the court documents) and it looks like WADA doesn't agree as well. It's going to get messy with lawyers and such. Don't think it will be settled anytime soon. Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 21:01

Of course not, the USADA is a United States Federal Agency. It does not have the authority to strip titles won in France in a French event.

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    Would you consider adding references to support this argument?
    – amcnabb
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 20:34
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    The USADA is quite clearly a US agency. In terms of it not having this authority, you're asking for freiheit to prove a negative. Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 20:58
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    @NeilFein - Just a note: freheit only edited the response. joe is the original responder. And while it is a US based entity, it is NOT (although most assume it is) a government agency. Additionally, most anti doping orgs for nations agree to honor each others bans, much like international treaties bind countries.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 21:48
  • @JohnP - Ah, missed that one! Yeah, they're not a government agency, but their scope seems to be limited to US and Olympic events. But the limits of influence are probably more difficult to chart. Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 21:58
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    I think this is technically correct, but misleading (as is the USADA soundbite in the question). If USADA decides confiscation of all titles is the appropriate sanction, UCI are likely bound to go along with that as a WADA signatory. That isn't quite the same as USADA having direct jurisdiction over French titles, but it gets the same result.
    – Useless
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 9:45

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