BERLIN (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong should come clean with a full doping confession, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will look into ways of taking away the former Tour de France champion’s 2000 Games medal, IOC vice president Thomas Bach said on Tuesday.
American Armstrong, who won the Tour a record seven times from 1999 to 2005, is set to lose his titles after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accused him of being the central figure in an elaborate doping conspiracy.
The 41-year-old rider, who according to the 1,000-page report published last week, had been involved in doping well before the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he won a time-trial bronze medal, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“This case is now with the UCI (International Cycling Union) which has to determine whether Armstrong should have taken part in the Sydney Olympics or not,” Bach told Reuters in an interview.
“If the case is that he should not have taken part, that he should have been banned for that period, then the IOC will take its decision on this basis and will need to decide on the stripping of the medal,” said Bach who is also Germany’s Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) chief.
Armstrong, one of the world’s most famous athletes who is also well known for his cancer-fighting charity work, has refused to challenge the USADA charges.
With testimony from 26 witnesses, many of them former team mates of the American, the report concluded that Armstrong was one of the ringleaders in a sophisticated doping scheme at the U.S. Postal team.
The UCI has 21 days to rule on the USADA report while the IOC has an eight-year statute of limitation for changing Olympic results and stripping medals from doping offenders.
Bach said there could be ways around that in this case.
“USADA’s report has given some pointers that the statute of limitation was interrupted through Lance Armstrong lying about doping. We will have to examine to see if this is a way we can follow according to Swiss law.”
Bach, a lawyer who heads the IOC’s juridical commission and will be a possible IOC presidential candidate next year, also urged Armstrong to make a full confession.
“For this procedure to be comprehensive, it would be good for the sport and for himself if Lance Armstrong would stop burying his head in the sand and come clean with a complete and open testimony.”
“It is late but not too late; it would be a cleansing process.”
The American’s team manager during his Tour wins, Johan Bruyneel, is among four other people accused of doping violations by USADA. Bruyneel is contesting the case.
Calls for the resignation of UCI president Pat McQuaid, who took over in 2005, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen who is now an honorary UCI president and an honorary IOC member, have been growing louder.
“At this moment the documents are with the UCI and this is a very transparent procedure. I am certain that it will examine it carefully and then take the necessary consequences,” said Bach, a former Olympic fencing champion.
“I am confident the UCI will react in a comprehensive and appropriate way.”
Editing by Clare Fallon