Lance Armstrong made a public announcement that he wouldn’t fight the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s charges that the seven-time Tour de France winner took performance-enhancing drugs over a period of 1998 to 2005. The USADA immediately reacted by saying it would endeavour to strip him of his seven Tours. The Texan stands to lose, among other things, the record for most Tours won.
There were reactions all over the blogosphere, the electronic press and Twitter. Maybe the most trenchant comment comes from Sky’s directeur sportif Steven de Jongh, an Dutch ex-pro: “By deleting Lance, the list of winners doesn’t become more credible.” Indeed, a look at the adjusted Tour de France podiums from 1999-2005 sees mostly cyclists who have been suspended for or admitted to doping move up in the order.
1999: 1) Alex Zulle (Switzerland, Benesto) 2) Fernando Escartin (Spain, Kelme), Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland, Saeco).
This would make for the first time two Swiss have been on a podium since Ferdi Kubler and Fritz Schar in 1955. Unfortunately, both Zulle and Dufaux were caught up in the Festina Affair doping-scandal of the 1998 edition, and both have admitted to using PEDs.
2000: 1) Jan Ullrich (Germany, Telekom) 2) Joseba Beloki (Spain, Festina) 3) Christophe Moreau (France, Festina).
This is the first of three Tours Ullrich stands to win. Ullrich and Beloki were Armstrong’s big rivals in the early 2000s. Ullrich would later be disqualified from third spot in 2005 for admitted doping. He would also be suspended by his team before the 2006 Tour, caught up in the Operation Puerto case.
Beloki would never be the same rider after crashing heavily while descending the Cote de la Rochette with Armstrong in the 2003 edition. He, too, would be named and suspended in Operation Puerto, but later cleared by his national federation. Moreau admitted to taking EPO after the Festina Affair.
2001: 1) Ullrich 2) Beloki 3) Andrei Kivilev (Kazakhstan, Cofidis).
Sadly, Kivilev died after a fall in the 2003 Paris-Nice.
2002: 1) Beloki 2) Raimondas Rumsas (Lithuania, Lampre) 3) Santiago Botero (Colombia, Kelme)
Rumsas was a shocking third in 2002. However, his wife was caught by police with various doping products in her car on the final day of the race. The next year, he tested positive for EPO right after a sixth place finish in the Giro d’Italia and was suspended.
Botero was implicated in Operation Puerto and dropped by Phonak. He was later cleared by the Colombian authorities.
2003: 1) Ullrich 2) Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan, Telekom), Tyler Hamilton (U.S., CSC)
Vino, the new Olympic champion, was caught blood-doping at the 2007 Tour, causing the withdrawal of his entire Astana team. He served a two year suspension.
Along with Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton has been one of Armstrong’s most dedicated American accusers. Hamilton failed doping tests, including one at the 2004 Olympics and one at that year’s Vuelta a España. Finally, he admitted to cheating. Hamilton was recently stripped of the 2004 time trial gold medal – which he’d handed back anyway – giving it to Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov.
2004: 1) Andreas Kloden (Germany, T-Mobile) 2) Ivan Basso (Italy, CSC) 3) Ullrich
So far, only allegations have marked Kloden. Ivan Basso admitted to planning to dope after being named in Operation Puerto and came back from a two-year suspension to win his second Giro d’Italia in 2010.
2005: 1) Basso 2) Francisco Mancebo (Spain, Illes Balears) 3) Vinokourov
Vinokourov already moved up after Jan Ullrich’s suspension this past February, which wiped out the German’s record back to 2005. Mancebo was linked to 2006’s Operation Puerto, and was withdrawn from the race by his team. He retired soon after, but has mounted a successful comeback.