If Not Armstrong, Who Won the Tour De France (Or Tour D’Utopia) From 1999 to 2005?

Lance Armstrong finished first, but, as long as the USADA gets its way, his wins will be stricken from the record.

The UCI does not seem to want to change the record books though. This issue could be fought tooth and nail through the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the coming months and indeed years.

I thought I would have a look at the seven Tours won by Armstrong and see who should succeed to the title.

I think most observers would agree that it would almost negate any value in having “caught” Armstrong if, for example, any of the titles passed to Jan Ullrich.

In the ideal world (which we all know does not exist) the UCI would want the “tainted titles” to go to riders whose reputations were unblemished – who had no issues about performance enhancing drugs, EPOs, HGH, blood doping etc. No mention of a rider below is to imply, in the absence of a “conviction” that they were a doper, but rather that they fall short, however slightly, of a squeaky clean and unblemished reputation.

Taking such a zero tolerance approach leads to some very surprising results, giving two countries their first Tour winner, creating a three-time winner, and one very unlikely two-time champion.

Perhaps the best title to award the new victors is that of winner of the Tour D’Utopia.

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1999

Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 91h 32′ 16″

Seven times a champion on the Champs Elysees, but the record books will suggest none of them happened

Alex Zülle (SUI) Banesto +7′ 37″

We know what Lance Armstrong stands accused of, but what about Alex Zulle?

As Instant Action Sports recorded:-

“The 1998 Tour de France was marred by the greatest scandal in its 96 year history when the Festina team was expelled for drug taking. On 8 July, three days before the Tour was due to start, Willy Voet, a Belgian physiotherapist with Festina was detained by French police after customs officers, searching his official team car, discovered 400 phials of assorted banned substances including the large quantities of the hormone EPO. On 17 July Festina were expelled from the Tour after the team’s director Bruno Roussel admitted under police questioning that illegal drugs had been supplied to Festina riders under medical supervision. Five Festina riders including Alex Zülle, two times winner of the Tour of Spain, later admitted to taking EPO.

Alex Zulle therefore misses the cut in our Tour D’Utopia.

We will read more of Festina and of Willy Voet before our odyssey is complete.

Fernando Escartín (ESP) Kelme +10′ 26″

This third place finish was the best of Fernando Escartin’s career. He was the classic domestique. He spent most of his career backing up his team leader, occasionally getting the chance to make a run for a stage win himself.

He had a blemish free career, and therefore gains the crown as winner of the 1999 Tour.

If he had won it at the time, it probably would have been hailed as one of the most shocking results in the Tour for many a year.

WINNER OF THE 1999 TOUR – FERNANDO ESCARTIN of SPAIN!

Fernando Escartin…true winner of the 1999 Tour?

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2000

1  Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 92h 33′ 08″

2  Jan Ullrich (GER) Telekom +6′ 02″

Jan Ullrich is being described as favourite to inherit three of Armstrong’s titles. His doing so would make a mockery of the message the Armstrong disqualification is meant to show, namely that cheating does not benefit a competitor and is not rewarded.

In 2006 the following was reported:-

“Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France winner, has been sacked by his T-Mobile team. Ullrich, 32, was withdrawn from this year’s Tour by his team before it started when he was linked by the media to an investigation in Spain into alleged blood doping.”

Operation Puerta, which will appear again in this list, was a Spanish investigation into blood doping and various forms of medical cheating across a number of sports.

As the BBC reported on 30th June 2006:-

“The six-month Spanish investigation, nicknamed Operation Puerta, led to the arrests of five men, including Manolo Saiz, who recently resigned as boss of the Liberty-Seguros team, now re-named Astana-Wurth.

Tour organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) has revealed it has been given a list of more than 50 riders named in the investigation.

Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc said: “I hope we can clean up everything now. All the cheats should be kicked out.

“Then maybe we will get an open Tour with clean riders, with space for ethics, sport and entertainment.”

M. Leblanc’s hopes were not fulfilled.

After Ullrich’s departure from the Tour in 2006 due to Puerta, he came back to cycling before retiring on 2007.

However he was later found to have been guilty of blood doping and finally, in 2012, banned from 2005 to his retirement.

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As Cycling News reported:-

Jan Ullrich has responded following the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling which saw him hit with a two-year ban and his results from May 2005 until his retirement in February 2007 annulled, including his third-place overall finish in the 2005 Tour de France.

Ullrich was involved in the blood doping scheme of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes which was uncovered in Operacion Puerto in 2006. He was suspended by T-Mobile Team shortly before the start of the Tour de France that year and subsequently released. He announced his retirement in February 2007 and that same year it was announced that a DNA test matched his blood to samples taken into custody in Operacion Puerto.

The CAS ruled that he was guilty of a doping offence.

“Given the volume, consistency and probative value of the evidence presented by the UCI, and the failure of Jan Ullrich to raise any doubt about the veracity of reliability of such evidence, this Panel came to the conclusion that Jan Ullrich engaged at least in blood doping in violation of Article 15.2 of the UCI Anti-Doping rules,” the court said.

Ullrich admits that he had indeed been in contact with Fuentes but does not expand on the dealings.

“I know that that was a big mistake that I regret very much,” he stated. “For this behavior, I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone – I’m very sorry. Looking back, I would act in certain situations during my career differently.”

Below is the full transcript of Ullrich’s statement.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has now banned me for two years. This ruling brings disciplinary proceedings to an end, which has lasted almost three years. This sporting legal tug of war was unsatisfactory for all concerned for myself as for the public. It is incomprehensible to me why we all had to wait so long for this judgment.

I accept the ruling and will not challenge it. Not because I agree with all points in the court’s opinion, but because I want to finish the issue definitively. As a personal consequence, I’ve pulled back in 2007 with my retirement from professional cycling. I confirm that I had contact with Fuentes. I know that that was a big mistake that I regret very much. For this behaviour, I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone – I’m very sorry. Looking back, I would act differently in certain situations during my career.

I wanted to get out of the Tour 2006 everything again. After my tour victory in 1997 and five second places in the public, sponsors and also my own pressure was immense. Everyone wanted a second tour victory, especially after the retirement of Lance Armstrong.

Shortly before the 2006 tour, I was hit: Suspension, headlines, ostracism, house searches, criminal complaints. I felt abandoned, fallen like a leaf. The whole world wanted to put me against the wall and then I went instinctively to ground, and eventually retired. As I said, I will not complain that not everything was warranted. Shortly after my suspension I wanted to explain my actions publicly but my hands were tied. On the advice of my lawyers, and as is usual in such cases, I have been silent on the allegations. Ultimately, this issue has polluted me for years so much that I was sick and I eventually broke down.

I am glad that finally a decision was made. For me this brings to an end my active career in cycling and it is very personal for me and my family for this difficult time to come to an end. Today’s ruling will not have any bearing on my future plans. I never thought in any capacity to return to active professional cycling. This statement is from my side all that will be said on this subject and I would not like to make any further statements or interviews in public. I hope for your understanding. I hereby draw a line.

I owe a lot to cycling and will continue to further express my joy and passion for the sport to others. In the future I will therefore hope to be active in cycling in various roles. I look back on my cycling career and accomplishments with pride and look forward to my new career.

Jan Ullrich

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In light of all that, can Ullrich be awarded the Tour D’Utopia prize? No.

3  Joseba Beloki (ESP) Festina +10′ 04″

In 2006 he was among those implicated in Operación Puerto and was withdrawn from the Tour de France. He was later cleared by Spanish officials of any wrongdoing.

There are some sceptics about the process by which the Operation Puerta investigation was dealt with. Amongst other commentators, the website Tennis Has a Steroid Problem has consistently questioned the handling of the investigation, suggesting that the authorities in Spain, whether deliberately or not, have acted in ways to avoid taking action against sporting heroes in the country.

For example, I have read a number of articles over the years which suggest that, if Lance Armstrong had been Spanish and had been caught up in Puerta, he too would have been cleared. None of which is to suggest that Beloki, or indeed anyone else linked to the investigation must be guilty.

However, the link disqualifies them from the Tour D’Utopia prize.

4  Christophe Moreau (FRA) Festina +10′ 34″

Moreau was another member of the Festina team caught in the doping scandal in 1998.

As the New York Times reported at the time:-

“Leblanc said there was no question of disqualifying the Festina riders or making any judgment until more facts were known. That is unlikely to happen before the race reaches France on Tuesday, when Tour officials can confer with the French police.

The Festina team includes Richard Virenque, second overall last year in the Tour and the king of the mountains the last four years; Laurent Brochard, the reigning world road-race champion, and Alex Zulle, second overall in the 1995 Tour. Another member is Christophe Moreau, who failed a drug test in June, blamed a team masseur for providing him with an illegal substance and is riding in the Tour while his appeal is being studied.

5  Roberto Heras (ESP) Kelme +11′ 50″

Heras’ history is discussed in Velonews from which the following has been summarised.

From 2001, he raced alongside Lance Armstrong on the US Postal Service team. As a climbing specialist, he assisted Armstrong in the mountain stages of the Tour de France.

However, a drug test in November 2005, two months after the Tour of Spain, which he had won, showed a positive test for EPO from the day of time trial. He was fired and faced a two-year suspension. His Vuelta win was given to second place finisher, Russian Denis Menchov. Heras appealed, alleging inaccuracies in the testing and mishandling of his samples.

After taking the civil law rather than sporting law route, a Spanish court ruled in June 2011 that he should be cleared of doping charges linked to his 2005 win.

Europa Press reported that the Contencioso Administrativo del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Castilla y León, based in Valladolid, ruled in favour of the now-retired Spaniard, who has always maintained there were procedural flaws in his controversial case.

Heras was stripped of his 2005 Vuelta crown and handed down a two-year sentence after testing positive for EPO in the final individual time trial.

Heras challenged the case in civil court, opting not to take the legal fight to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying that testers violated laboratory protocol and mishandled his urine samples taken on the 20th stage of the 2005 Vuelta.

“This is good news for me,” Heras was quoted in the Spanish daily MARCA on Friday. “We presented our defence, showing what we thought was wrong with the procedure and other irregularities, and now the court has agreed with us.”

The cycling authorities have not followed the decision, and Menchov is still listed as the 2005 Vuelta winner.

Heras also, as stated above, was a team mate of Armstrong. That issue need not come into his eligibility for the Tour D’Utopia title, but will appear for others later.

6  Richard Virenque (FRA) Polti +13′ 26″

The Guardian reported in 2002 about Virenque, his involvement in the Festina Affair and his bare-faced denials of wrongdoing, which later morphed into his acceptance of guilt.

“Virenque’s recent fortunes are an object lesson for those who wonder how cycling has managed to survive, even if its credibility is reduced, as one scandal followed another. It is almost four years since the little Frenchman and his team were thrown off the race, following the seizure of their team car when it was loaded to the gunwales with erythropoietin and growth hormone. “The Festina affair” remains one of the most dramatic drug scandals in any sports event.

Even while he and his team-mates were being questioned in police cells about what they had been using, the placards proclaiming “Allez Virenque” were still being brandished at the roadside, although they had been joined by others with crudely drawn syringes. A year later, after he had been excluded from the race for “embodying the sport’s doping problem”, and forced back in by the sport’s governing body, the declarations of support for him at the roadside were as fervent as ever – and expressed more elaborately than before: on decorated tractors, carefully arranged haybales and in painted bunting.

“Perhaps there were those who were disgusted,” admits Virenque, “but my supporters have been on my side through the hardest moments, as they were at the high points. From the public, in the street, there have never been insults, catcalls. I’ve always had support, 100%.” Quite how you view this phenomenon – wilful blindness or sympathetic forgiveness? – depends from which side of the drug- taking debate you come, but that does not make it any less remarkable.

For sheer effrontery, Virenque’s denial for over two years that he had knowingly taken drugs, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, took some beating. It began a few days after his expulsion from the Tour, when he went on French television and gave a performance that was almost breathtakingly assured – given that he was clearly not telling the truth – and it ended in the courthouse in Lille in October 2000 when he broke under the questioning of the judge Daniel Délégove during the Festina trial.

Virenque’s denial always raised one main question: why? Why not simply come clean, take the punishment and go on with life? His explanation is surprisingly simple. “Eight idiots from Festina got caught [it was actually nine] and were expected to tell everything, but it [doping] was an institution in cycling. I didn’t accept it. As I saw it, everyone was trying to make me say the things that everyone knew but that everyone didn’t say. What did we do wrong? We got caught. Why this great pursuit of us to make us talk so that we could be punished? That was what I did not manage to understand. They wanted nine of us to carry the can. That was why I stayed silent. If I talked I would be suspended. If I didn’t talk, I wouldn’t be suspended.”

The obvious flaw in his argument is that rather like drivers exceeding the speed limit, Festina did get caught breaking the rules, so they needed to be punished even if fellow rule-breakers had not been caught. And clearly, by his silence, Virenque contributed to the great media explosion, whereas his team-mates who did confess, and served their bans, were simply able to get on with their lives. However, the steady flow of doping scandals in cycling since the Festina epic strengthens his case that no matter the extent to which his sufferings have been self-inflicted, Virenque is a survivor. “I’ve had to change, in my head, and at all levels,” he says, and you feel that here he is not merely referring to new-found maturity.

After his confession, he was promptly banned and did not ride his bike for four months.

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 Virenque never won the Tour De France. Nor is he successful in the Tour D’Utopia.

7  Santiago Botero (COL) Kelme +14′ 18″

In 2006 Velonews reported that Botero, yet another rider caught up in Puerta, had been cleared by Colombian authorities.

“The disciplinary committee of the Federación Colombiana de Ciclismo revealed that the dossier of evidence forwarded by the UCI wasn’t enough to punish the former world time trial champion.

“There’s nothing to it,” said Ettore Sangiovanni, president of the Colombian federation, in wire reports. “There’s no real proof and only suppositions.”

In June, Phonak suspended Botero along with Spanish brothers Ignacio and José Enrique Gutiérrez after alleged links to controversial Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Botero actually admitted working with Fuentes, but said there were no illegal practices or banned performance-enhancing products featured in his treatments and training programs.”

Suspicions have been voiced suggesting that the same alleged bias, deliberate or subconscious, as benefited the Spanish riders, might have affected other countries’ authorities in deciding the fates of their own riders.

8  Fernando Escartín (ESP) Kelme +17′ 21″

And so, by a process of elimination, we come again to Fernando Escartín!

WINNER OF THE 2000 TOUR – FERNANDO ESCARTIN of SPAIN! 

And Escartin “wins” the 2000 Tour too?

If awarded both Tours de France, he would take his place alongside such greats as Coppi, Fignon, Thevenet and Contador (mmm), as two-time winners.

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2001

1  Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 86h 17′ 28″

2  Jan Ullrich (GER) Telekom +6′ 44″

See 2000

3  Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE +9′ 05″

See 2000

4  Andrei Kivilev (KAZ) Cofidis +9′ 53″

Kivilev died in March 2003, following a fall in the Paris-Nice race. He was not wearing a helmet.

The Cofidis website posted the following message after his death: “Cofidis en deuil” (Cofidis in mourning) and this sad announcement:

“It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Andreï Kivilev in the hospital Bellevue in Saint Etienne. The victim of a severe head injury following a fall during the second stage of the Paris Nice, Andreï Kivilev was immediately taken to the Saint Chamond hospital before being transferred to the Saint Etienne intensive care unit of professor Zéni.

“The 1,700 workers of Cofidis are in a state of shock. Andreï Kivilev was a model professional which was recognized by the peloton, and he was a man renowned for his kindness, his humility, his strength and his loyalty. He lost his life as he carried out his profession. His loss will inspire respect and meditation from us all.

He finished fourth in the 2001 Tour only after losing third place to Beloki in the penultimate day’s time trial. That was his best career result.

His legacy was of far greater benefit to his fellow cyclists. Despite vocal opposition to the compulsory wearing of helmets, which previously had led to protests forcing the UCI to back down, the ruling body went ahead and imposed the requirement that helmets be worn.

There will be cyclists alive today who would not have been if the rule had not been put in place. In addition, the sight of the top performers in competitive cycling riding with helmets on will have encouraged many people who only ride as a hobby, or to get to work, to put a helmet on as well.

WINNER OF THE 2001 TOUR – ANDREI KIVILEV of KAZAKHSTAN!

The tragic Andrei Kivilev – who maybe should be credited as winning the 2001 Tour?

If awarded the 2001 Tour de France, Kivilev would become the first Kazakh winner of one of the Grand Tours.

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2002

1  Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 82h 05′ 12″

2  Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE +7′ 17″

See 2000

3  Raimondas Rumsas (LIT) Lampre +8′ 17″

CNN reported in January 2006 the outcome of what seemed almost like a Carry On episode in amongst the serious matters we have been looking at.

“LYON, France — Lithuanian rider Raimondas Rumsas and his wife Edita have been handed four-month suspended jail sentences for smuggling banned substances into France. Rumsas’ Polish doctor Krzysztof Ficek also received a 12-month suspended jail sentence from the French court for his role in a scandal that rocked cycling in 2002.

Edita Rumsas was arrested by French customs officers with drugs in her car on the day her husband finished third in the 2002 Tour de France. She said the consignment of drugs were for her sick mother.

Rumsas was arrested at his home in Italy in June 2005 before being released ahead of his trial a month later. Neither Rumsas nor his wife, who was released three months after her arrest, have returned to France since their hearing at the Bonneville court last November.

Rumsas was suspended by Italy’s Lampre team for failing a drug test in May 2003.”

His third place finish was the best achievement by a Lithuanian rider in the Tour. However, the combination of his failed test in 2003 and the arrest of both he and his wife at the end of the 2002 Tour make it clear that he ought not to inherit the Tour D’Utopia prize.

4  Santiago Botero (COL) Kelme +13′ 10″

See 2000

5  Igor González (ESP) ONCE +13′ 54″

Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano, to give him his full name, failed a test for the drug salbutamol at the 2002 Tour. He stated he was taking this for asthma.

The French anti-doping council (CPLD) suspended him from racing on French soil because of a positive test and although the UCI ruled at the time that it wasn’t a positive test, the CPLD adopted the more stringent World Anti-Doping Agency rules in its decision to sanction the ONCE rider. Under UCI and Tour de France rules he was negative, but under French law he was positive, and he received a six month ban from racing in France. Although he planned to contest the ban, it became academic once he broke his collarbone in June 2003.

One of the matters recorded by the Tennis Has a Steroid Problem website is the number of athletes who hold Therapeutic Use Exemptions for medications like salbutamol, in connection with treatment for asthma. The medication for treating asthma is banned because it can give a non-sufferer a competitive advantage. It is a testimony to the effort and desire of many sportsmen and women that, despite being sufferers from asthma to the level where medication is needed, they have overcome this to reach the heights of their sports.

Imagine how good, for example, Venus Williams would have been over recent years if she had not become an asthma sufferer.

Gonzalez’s failed test eliminates him from the Tour D’Utopia.

6  José Azevedo (POR) ONCE +15′ 44″

Here we have a borderline case under the rules of the Tour D’Utopia. Azevedo could have found himself elevated to be the first Portuguese winner of the Tour de France. However, the allegations against Armstrong include charges that he worked with his team in connection with doping programmes, including encouraging other riders to dope too.

Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton have made these allegations publicly, and the USADA said that it had ten witnesses who were former team mates of Armstrong lined up to testify against him.

His team manager, Johan Bruyneel, is being charged by USADA too, and has gone to arbitration. He is alleged to have been complicit in overseeing the programme.

How does this affect Azevedo?

He rode for Armstrong’s US Postal team between 2004 and 2006 and in 2010, he became a team manager with Team Radio Shack. The latter was Armstrong’s team on his return to the sport.

This might be the slimmest and most circumstantial of cases, and not one which would permit the UCI or the Tour de France to disqualify him, but it eliminates him from consideration for the Tour D’Utopia.

7  Francisco Mancebo (ESP) iBanesto.com +16′ 05″

He was linked to the Operación Puerto doping case and he was not allowed to start the 2006 Tour. He therefore misses the Tour D’Utopia too.

8  Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank +17′ 11″

Early in his career, on August 18, 1996, Leipheimer, won the U.S. National Criterium Championships when he lapped the field on the technically demanding Grandview Heights, Ohio, circuit. It was later reported by Velonews that Leipheimer tested positive for a banned substance at the championship, and a disciplinary panel recommended that he return his title, prize money and jersey. The Leipheimer family, in a letter to the Montana Standard, confirmed the violation and sanction, claiming that he had innocently used the allergy medicine Claritin-D, which contains a form of the banned substance ephedrine, to relieve hay fever, and claimed that USA Cycling subsequently relaxed its standards regarding the use of such allergy medicines in competition.

He joined Armstrong’s US Postal team in 2000.

He rode with US Postal in 200 and 2001, and with Armstrong’s Team Radio Shack in 2010 and 2011.

In 2005 and 2006 he rode for Gerolsteiner. Cycling News reported accusations made by the former Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer.

He claimed that Leipheimer’s blood values during the 2005 Tour de France “showed a very high probability of manipulation”. Holczer made the accusation during the presentation of his book called “Garantiert Positiv” (“Guaranteed Positive”).

Cycling News went on to report Holczer’s comments as follows:-

He claimed that the UCI informed him on the first rest day of the 2005 Tour de France in Grenoble that Leipheimer’s blood values had an off-score co-efficient of 132.8. That is just 0.2 under the limit of 133. A normal score is 85-95 and scores over 133 can be considered evidence of doping.

“It was clear to me: Leipheimer had manipulated,” Holczer told SID and other media during the book presentation.

With Leipheimer’s values just under the limit, Holczer said the UCI advised him to try and find another reason to remove Leipheimer from the race, something he felt unable to do. “I was caught between a moral obligation and a legal threat,” Holczer said.

He knew that if there had been a scandal about Leipheimer’s blood values during the Tour de France it would have been the end of the team. The Gerolsteiner sponsorship agreement specified that if there were two doping cases in the team, the contract would end immediately. The team had already had its first case earlier that same year when Danilo Hondo tested positive. “Ever since then we’d been sat on an economic powder keg. I would have gone totally bankrupt,” Holczer said.

Gerolsteiner announced in September 2007 that it would end its sponsorship of the team at the end of the 2008 season. At the 2008 Tour de France, Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher tested positive for the new blood-boosting drug CERA. Schumacher and Davide Rebellin also tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing a few weeks later. The team was broken up and the infrastructure sold off at the end of the 2008 season.

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On the basis of all of the above, Leipheimer missies out on the Tour D’Utopia.

9  Roberto Heras (ESP) US Postal Service +17′ 12″

See 2000

10  Carlos Sastre (ESP) Team CSC +19′ 05″

Sastre retired from the sport at the age of 36 in 2011 as the winner of the Tour in 2008. On retiring he said, “I don’t want cycling to become a financial matter for me, I have always tried to be a professional and I have known my limits.”

However, his clean record, as far as I can see, means that he takes the prize for 2002 as well!

WINNER OF THE 2002 TOUR – CARLOS SASTRE of SPAIN!

Carlos Sastre – who could have the 2002 Tour to add to his later title?

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2003

1  Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 83h 41′ 12″

2  Jan Ullrich (GER) Bianchi +1′ 01″

See 2000

3  Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) Telekom +4′ 14″

In the 2007 Tour Vinokourov, tested positive for “a homologous blood transfusion” after a time trial in Albi. L’Equipe reported that his blood had shown evidence of a transfusion from another person with a compatible blood type in an analysis done in the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory. The positive test was later confirmed by the Astana team.

As Autobus reported:-

Upon receiving the news, the Astana team suspended Vinokourov and quit the Tour de France, according to a statement which read, “According to the ethical code of the Astana Cycling Team, Alexander Vinokourov has been suspended of the team with immediate effect. The rider asked nevertheless [for] a B-analysis.”

ASO president Patrice Clerc received the news on Tuesday, and requested the Astana leave the Tour, which the team accepted. “I was told by [Astana general manager] Marc Biver that Alexander Vinokourov had tested positive after a blood test following the time trial. I asked Marc Biver that the Astana team leave the Tour de France and he accepted.”

The news broke while Saunier Duval was holding its press conference and its rider David Millar was asked to respond. “That is a surprise. I don’t know what to say,” a shocked Millar stated. “Vino is one of my favourite riders. He is a guy of class. Given what we have done, with our current situation, we may as well pack our bags and go home,” continued the Scot.

After minute of reflection, he clarified, “No, I don’t believe the Tour should stop here. We are 40 years after Simpson’s death and the Tour still goes on.”

The Kazakh was rumoured to be targeted prior to the Tour by the UCI as one of the ‘men in black‘ – riders who try to avoid out of competition controls by training in anonymous clothing in out of the way places. Astana denied that this was anything other than a way to avoid being pestered by fans.

Homologous blood transfusions have been detectable since the 2004 Olympic games, and American Tyler Hamilton had the dubious honour of being the first cyclist to be suspended for blood doping, an activity in which he repeatedly denied taking part.

The team’s withdrawal removes fifth placed Andreas Klöden and 23rd placed Vinokourov from the picture.

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Vinokourov of course won the road race Olympic Gold this year. He does not win the Tour D’Utopia though.

4  Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC +6′ 17″

As the above piece states:- American Tyler Hamilton had the dubious honour of being the first cyclist to be suspended for blood doping, an activity in which he repeatedly denied taking part.

In June 2009 he was given an eight-year ban after testing positive for a banned anti-depressant.

United States Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart said: “In cycling, eight years ineligibility for a 38-year-old athlete is effectively a lifetime ban.” He added that the ban was “an assurance that Hamilton is penalised for what would have been the remainder of his competitive cycling career”.

Hamilton’s Olympic time-trial triumph in 2004 was clouded by doping allegations. He failed a test but was allowed to keep the gold medal because his B sample could not be positively tested. He was stripped of the gold medal on August 10 this year. Following his admissions he had regularly used banned substances and treatments.

In 2004 he tested positive during the Tour of Spain and was given a two-year suspension.

He is alleged to be one of Armstrong’s former team mates who was set to give evidence against him. Next month sees him releasing his autobiography, “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs.”

One suspects he will not be saying that cycling is a clean sport!

5  Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) Euskaltel +6′ 51″

In contrast with Hamilton, who is one of the most blatant candidates to be eliminated, Zubeldia is perhaps the thinnest of the “suspicion by association” cases for removal. He has ridden for Radio Shack, Armstrong’s team, since 2010. By the standards of the Tour D’Utopia, he is passed over.

6  Iban Mayo (ESP) Euskaltel +7′ 06″

In August 2008, Mayo was handed a two-year doping ban on after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld an appeal by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The UCI took its appeal to CAS after the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) refused to punish the rider over what it called the “inconclusive” nature of a B sample.

Mayo tested positive for EPO in an A test conducted during 2007’s Tour de France but challenged its legitimacy after an initially inconclusive B sample was returned by a laboratory other than the one which carried out the initial test. The UCI then instructed the original laboratory to do its own B test and called for the rider to be banned after that came back positive.

“The CAS panel was of the opinion the decision of the UCI to proceed to a new analysis of the B sample was in accordance with the letter and spirit of the UCI anti-doping regulations,” the court said in a statement.

He was suspended for two years from July 31, 2007, the day he was sacked by his then team Saunier Duval.

7  Ivan Basso (ITA) Fassa Bortolo +10′ 12″

In 2007 Basso was banned for  two years by the Italian cycling federation hearing. He admitted his involvement in Operation Puerto and had pleaded for a lenient penalty. He admitted to “attempted doping” but insisted he did not go through with it.

Italian cycling federation decided to punish him with the full two years, as requested by the UCI.

Basso said: “I accept the sentence. I knew the situation wasn’t an easy one. I’m going to continue to train and plan to return in 2009. I’ve got to look to the future.” He had been accused of using or attempting to use a banned substance or method, and “possession of banned substances and methods”.

He said he gave a blood sample to Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the heart of the Operation Puerto case, with the intention of doping but never actually did. He was excluded from 2006’s Tour de France.

8  Christophe Moreau (FRA) Crédit Agricole +12′ 28″

See 2000

9  Carlos Sastre (ESP) Team CSC +18′ 49″

And so we come again to Sastre.

WINNER OF THE 2003 TOUR – CARLOS SASTRE of SPAIN!

Champers for the champion! But should Sastre have tasted victory three times, not one?

This would, when combined with the Tour he won on the road, mean he would be a three time Tour victor. That would put him alongside Louison Bobet, Greg Lemond and Phillipe Thys as the only people to have three Tour victories. That would place him behind only Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain in the Tour’s pantheon.

—————————————————————-

2004

1  Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 83h 36′ 02″

2  Andreas Klöden (GER) T-Mobile +6′ 19″

In 2009 Autobus reported as follows:-

Andreas Klöden travelled to the Freiburg University Clinic for an illegal blood transfusion after the first stage of the Tour de France 2006, an independent commission has ruled. In a report issued Wednesday afternoon, the commission which investigated doping practices carried out by doctors at the clinic said that three riders – Klöden, Matthias Kessler, and Patrik Sinkewitz – received transfusions of their own blood on Sunday, July 2, 2006.

Klöden, currently riding for Team Astana, has consistently denied the charges. The independent commission examined charges that doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid ran an organized doping program from 1995-2006 for the team known as T-Mobile or Team Telekom.

Both Sinkewitz and his girlfriend, who admitted to transporting the riders, testified that the other two German riders accompanied them to the clinic. The woman’s name was not published in the report. The three cyclists arrived at the clinic at about 6 PM, where they were met by team doctor Schmid. He led them to a darkened room, where “all three riders had their own blood transfused back into them.” The whole process took about 45 minutes after which they then returned to France.

The commission rejected allegations that more, if not all, of the team’s Tour de France squad, had gone to the clinic that evening. The rumours of another group visiting the clinic “could not be confirmed.” In addition, according to the report, at least one persuasive witness said that it was noted that the three riders were not present at dinner. “If other riders on the team would have received transfusions with their own blood, then it would have to have been on another day.”

——————————————————————

Kloden has also been on the Radio Shack team since 2010.

3  Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC +6′ 40″

See 2003

4  Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile +8′ 50″

See 2000

5  José Azevedo (POR) US Postal Service +14′ 30″

See 2001

6  Francisco Mancebo (ESP) Illes Balears-Banesto-Santander +18′ 01″

See 2001

7  Georg Totschnig (AUT) Gerolsteiner +18′ 27″

In 2005 34 year old Austrian climber George Totschnig won Stage 14 of the Tour. He collapsed after rolling over the finish line, where he banged his helmet in disbelief. The emotion was just too strong, and the Austrian lay down on the ground before being helped up to go the podium, where he burst into tears of happiness.

“I never would have thought I could win a stage like this,” he said in the post-race interview. “I knew I had to break away early to stand a chance against the likes of Armstrong, but I was also lucky. It’s the most beautiful day of my life on a sports level, but I have two children, Emma and Maximilian, and that’s more important than sports…”

He became only the second Austrian to win a Tour de France stage after Max Bulla in 1931.

However, as we have seen, it is arguable that he might in fact have been Austria’s first winner of the Tour the previous year.

In any event, we can crown him with the Tour D’Utopia.

WINNER OF THE 2004 TOUR – GEORG TOTSCHNIG of AUSTRIA!

Georg Totschnig expressing shock and surprise at the news he maybe won the Tour in 2004

—————————————————————-

2005

1  Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 86h 15′ 02″

2  Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC +4′ 40″

See 2003

DSQ  Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile +6′ 21″

See 2000

4  Francisco Mancebo (ESP) Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne +9′ 59″

See 2001

5  Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) T-Mobile +11′ 01″

See 2003

6  Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner +11′ 21″

See 2002

7  Michael Rasmussen (DEN) Rabobank +11′ 33″

And so we come close to the end of this exercise. Rasmussen is another one of the “Carry On” candidates, like Rumsas.

Rasmussen was thrown out of the 2007 Tour by his Dutch team for lying over his whereabouts when he was being sought for doping tests. Rasmussen was banned for two years by the Monaco Cycling Federation.

He had a victory of sorts when his court action against his team, Rabobank, was successful. The judge ruled Rabobank had been entitled to dismiss him from the team, but it followed the wrong procedure. Rabobank had taken the route of immediate dismissal, a procedure that can only be used on urgent grounds, such as immediately after uncovering the facts warranting such action. In this case, Rabobank must have known about the lies for several weeks before deciding to fire the Dane.

The court found that Rasmussen was entitled to two months’ salary and the bonus he would have received had he won the tour.

Rasmussen, who has denied doping, said last November he lied in the run up to the race because of personal problems.

Missing a drugs test is treated as equivalent to failing one, so out of Tour D’Utopia contention he goes.

8  Cadel Evans (AUS) Davitamon-Lotto +11′ 55″

He is winner of the 2011 Tour de France.

Early in his career, Evans was a champion mountain biker, winning the World Cup in 1998 and 1999 and placing seventh in the men’s cross-country mountain bike race at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Evans turned to full-time road cycling in 2001, and gradually progressed through the ranks. He finished second in the 2007 and 2008 Tours de France. He became the first Australian to win the UCI ProTour (2007) and the UCI Road World Championships in 2009. Finally, he won the Tour de France in 2011, riding for BMC Racing Team, after two Tours riddled with bad luck.[3] At age 34, he was among the five oldest winners in the race’s history.

But we can also award him the prize for 2005 as well, making him a two time chanpion, like Escartín at the start of Armstrong’s reign.

WINNER OF THE 2005 TOUR – CADEL EVANS of AUSTRALIA!

Cadel Evans – is he truly a double winner of the Tour de France?

Advance Australia Fair indeed!

——————————————————————

So we go from Armstrong’s seven wins to a cast of Spaniards Escartín and Sastre, Australian Evans, Austrian Totschnig and Kazakh Kivilev.

Two of them, Sastre and Evans, later were winners of the Tour, so they know what it is like to win in Paris, but Escartin, Totschnig and Kivilev never did.

Have I made the right choices? Is it possible that, in fact, I should be going further down the lists (and as I have just noted references to two of my “winners” as clients of Dr Michele Ferrari, I might have to).

What this exercise does, I think, is demonstrate the futility of looking to change the record book by awarding titles, long after the fact, to people who did not win on the track or field.

This is different from disqualifying Ben Johnson the day after his 100m win at Seoul. “Fixing” the result within days, or weeks is probably in order, and in fact even within a year of the event would be possible.

However, going further than that risks creating strange results, not reflective of competition.

If, for example, the first seven finishers in the 2000 Tour had not entered, or had been disqualified as the race proceeded, then Escartín and his Kelme team would, in all probability, have had to ride the race in a totally different way, and the people who were just behind him in the General Classification would have attacked differently too. There is a big difference between how a rider races when 18 minutes behind the yellow jersey, and 18 seconds behind.

That is why my idea, which, when I started this piece, seemed a whimsical one, namely the Tour D’Utopia, could in fact have a place in sport.

Did Escartín “win” the Tour in 1999 and 2000? No, he did not. If you asked him if he considered himself to be the champion, I suspect he would say that he did not.

Would he appreciate having his name in lights as the highest “legal” finisher? I guess he would – there would be some value in that.

But trying to, may years after the fact, unravel competitions and award prizes elsewhere seems to me an exercise which makes the competitive process, and the prize ridiculous.

By all means do what the UCI have done, for example, with Ullrich’s finish in 2005 – strike it from the record so that there is now no third place finisher, and the rankings go from second to fourth, with him listed as “DISQ”. If Armstrong’s victories are to be taken away, as seems inevitable, then no one won the Tours de France in that period. The penalty is that his name would stand at the top of the lists struck through, like this.

1 Lance Armstrong (DISQ)

And looking closer to home, might this give the answer regarding the outcome of the independent SPL commission investigating Rangers’ alleged mis-deeds?

If found to have broken the rules consistently over a period of ten years, then remove the honours, but do not promote someone else in their place.

And even though there is an attraction in offering victory in the Tour D’Utopia to wronged athletes, we must remember that Utopia did not exist.

 

St Thomas More, creator of Utopia

Posted by Paul McConville

 

21 Comments

Filed under Cycling, Lance Armstrong

21 responses to “If Not Armstrong, Who Won the Tour De France (Or Tour D’Utopia) From 1999 to 2005?

  1. Siler City Tim

    To hell with it being too late to fix things! Give us our titles back!

    #elephantsmemoryCSC

  2. Chriske

    Magnificent post that hoists the Worlds most corrupt sport onto a long and sharp pointed stick. The big question is: what happens to the prize money?

    • Alex

      Huh? Worlds most corrupt sport?

    • Marching on Together

      I think a more fitting description is the sport where they are making the biggest efforts (belatedly) to clean it up. Look at Operation Puerto – Barcelona & Real Madrid footballers involved, but investigation only of cyclists. Pep Guardiola with a positive test (think it was for blood doping) during his playing career. Footballers getting bans for offences that in any other sport would merit two year bans.

      As for the prize money, in the TdF, the winner traditionally never takes any of it, but it goes to the staff (around 10 to 15%) and the rest split amongst the rest of the team.

      Armstrong could quite rightly argue if any effort is made to strip him of prize money, that the amount of money he and his wins brought into the sport completely dwarfs any prize money. Without him it is unlikely that there would be as many top-level professional teams in the US, or Sky in the UK, or Orica Green Edge in Australia.

  3. Immensly interesting and well researched again Paul. Question is do “teamGB” measure up in so far as “our” gold medal winners in the recent games. As cheating in one form or another seems obligitory in this sport and for all we know other sports of a similar competetive nature, how stringent were the checks on the games athletes and specifically the bikers?

    Then there is the looming question of RFC and TRFC, ps noticed earlier the league tables on bbc makes interesting reading……………….good old unbiased publicly funded braodcaster and MSM, wonder how good Chris is feeling today…….maaybe just a little more cold lamb before breakfast tomorrow to set him up for the day and all before he has to answer to his bosses why he doe not do any research for his “senior” reporting while drawing his publicly funded salary…….Questions WILL be asked of his employer. watch this space

  4. jim62

    Slightly easier to work out who would have won SPL if one team weren’t finacially doped!!!

    You should offer this article to the Sunday Times…they have done several similar on drugs and cycling.

  5. THANKYOU for a well written and thoroughly researched article ! UCI would do well to review your efforts and act on them !

    Lance also won the Bronze for ITT at Sydney 2000 Olympics and it would appear that this may also be in jeopardy , could be the medal will not be returned , but the records will show , “Who was it ” , again ? Ekimov will finally be written up as Winner of the Athens 2004 Olympic ITT Medal , now that shamilton has agreed to return the Gold Medal . Could they not have had a Presentation Ceremony at Hampton Court , so that Eki could enjoy that moment of belated Glory ?

    What is really needed , is , an ” Amnesty ” in ALL Sport , to clean the skeletons from the closet , once and for ALL ! Give the Athletes several months , without risk of penalties , to declare former ” Misdeeds ” and then publish the relevations , so that those who were embroiled with them , can come forward to avoid being viewed as complicit to former unrevealed ” Abuses ” and thus given ” Lifetime Bans ” should they not ” Blow the Whistle ” on any that failed to declare any transgressions by the due dates !

    With an ” Amnesty ” properly implemented , the Sports World could move forward to an era of ” Clean Practice ” and Families will be able to allow their offspring to participate in Sport , without the fear of ” Peer Pressure ” , to conform with Team Requirements .

    WILL MONEY ALWAYS BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ATHLETES HEALTH and LIVES ?

  6. jim o'donnelk

    Hi. I like ur work very much. Some of the legalise can be a bit dry but is nonetheless usually worth working through to understand the situation. However, and its quite a big however, the Lance Armstrong post was without doubt the most boring piece I have ever read. I would rather slice off my genitals and fry them in garlic butter than endure that level of turgidity again Sorry but it has to be said. Still love ur stuff! Jhimbhoy

  7. Bruce

    Excellent reading. This maybe is the ‘reason’ why the UCI doesn’t really want the ‘golden boy’ to be found guilty. It doesn’t really close the case, it mearly opens the can of worms further and sucks more in. Have the UCI been turning a blind eye? Are there still dinosaurs in the UCI from this period?

    The rules are the rules. Must say, good on Evans & Wiggo for their stance and comments about racing clean. Watching Vino win the Olympics didn’t fill me with any joy, nor does seeing Bertie & Valverde being treated like heroes in the Vuelta.

    For me, anyone found guilty and having served a ban should be made to ride with a skull and cross bones on their arm to show everyone they were ‘unfair’. Tainted meat forever!!

    • Ernesider

      Bruce

      Re:
      “Have the UCI been turning a blind eye? Are there still dinosaurs in the UCI from this period.”

      Not sure about dinosaurs but,

      “Pat McQuaid, the UCI president, is erratic, confused and in far over his head”
      (Joe Lindsey)

      And giving a fair impression of a headless chicken.

      There may be some who feel that without a conspiracy between the cycling teams, the cycling authorities and an obsequious press, this scandal could not have lasted so many years.

  8. Stu

    You can’t have Escartin as he was linked to Dr Fuentes.
    You can’t have Tochtsnig as he was charged with lying under oath about doping.
    You can’t have Sastre as he was also linked to Dr Fuentes.

  9. Lance Pharmstrong

    Don’t give the wins to anybody. No rider in the final Top 50 of those years was close to clean. And additionally, no rider from teams like KELME or ONCE or LIBERTY SEGUROS (all Manolo Saiz / Fuentes bloodline) like for example Escartin can be considered clean. Totschnig was also charged.

  10. Lance Pharmstrong

    Puerto not Puerta

  11. gortnamona

    Sun is shining intermittently so going out on my bike with a bottle of orange, a banana and a bar of Marathon to do sixty miles over hill and dale. Get out there all you couch potatoes.

  12. RichW

    Good piece, excellent research. Unfortunately as soon as you start this game you realise it’s going to suck you deeper and deeper – for instance consider Miguel Indurain!. Tho’ I don’t sense any great appetite among cycling fans to reopen that period of history.
    I like Jonathan Vaughters idea of a Truth and Reconciliation commission.

  13. Marching on Together

    Paul

    Good piece.

    If you are going to disqualify Azevedo and Zubeldia on the basis of being part of US Postal/Discovery (fair enough), then sorry, that rules out Escartin, as he was part of Kelme, as they had the whistle blown on them in 2004 by Jesus Manzano as to the team’s systematic drug-taking.

    Likewise Kivilev on Cofidis, and Totschnig on Gerolsteiner.

    Your suggestion of the strike-out for Armstrong is interesting – that is in fact what ASO have done for the 2006 win by Landis, but they have not done for Ullrich in 3rd in 2005, or Riis’ win in 1996.

    BTW, you have found real fame at last: http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=18292

  14. Jimothy

    A superb piece of research which a) is quite heartbreaking for a MAMiL like me who loves the sport, and b) demonstrates why the UCI is so desperate not to open the whole ‘well, who should get the victories then?’ can of worms. Precedent has been set, however, with the stripping of the 2010 TdeF title from Contador (against whom there was rather less evidence than against Armstrong) to be given to Andy Schleck (whose brother Frank, of course, removed himself from this year’s race following the discovery of masking agents in his samples – and given their literal and metaphorical umbilical link, this raises inevitable questions over Andy!). UCI / Amaury never seems to have decided if the doping is the biggest threat to the race, or whether the discovery of doping and ensuing scandal is the biggest threat – well, their indecision has landed them right in it in this one!
    I was in Chartres this year for the penultimate day’s time-trial and stood at the road-side like an 8-year old-kid cheering as Wiggins flew past – if he ever turns out not to be clean, I WILL blub for a week, all my dreams smashed…

  15. Cuillin Dreams

    Last year I read Jeremy Whittle’s excellent account of the 1998 Festina Scandel. Yellow Fever is a stage by stage account of cheating on a grand scale. The most notable aspect of the scandel is the manner in which the UCI, the Tour de France and even the innocent parties turned a blind eye to the cheating that was going on. Even when presented with ‘prima facia’ evidence no action was taken.
    Because it did not face up to the facts, the sport of cycling is still haunted by doping scandals. Because the authorities were weak the cheating continued. The sport needed to come to terms with reality in order to move on. The contrition required by the guilty parties was never expressed and denial was the order of the day.
    The parallels with the Rangers story are numerous and the lessons for Scottish football are many. In order to move on we must come to terms with the reality of the past. If that means stripping titles then so be it!

  16. Sarah Ferguson

    Glad to see the much-quoted but ultimately apocryphal story about the 2005 race going down to 23rd place being comprehensively debunked!

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