Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles are gone, his Olympic medal is in jeopardy, and his reputation is destroyed now that he’s been banned from the sport for life. But while cutting off a Livestrong bracelet is now more popular than wearing one, the IOC says the sport of cycling is safe.
A report by Belga explains that the committee will not investigate the International Cycling Union’s roll in a doping culture that has persisted in the sport for nearly fifteen years. The report also concluded that that cycling is not at risk of being removed from the Olympics anytime in the near future.
“It would not be correct to punish the vast majority of clean athletes if we exclude the UCI from the Games,” said the IOC, which admonished the UCI for the breadth and depth of the doping scandal, but also called it a “pioneer” in the fight against drugs in sports.
President Jacques Rogge said the IOC is likely to implement even stiffer penalties for doping, including four-year suspensions and bans from Olympic competition.
Events like baseball and polo have been removed from the Olympic program for various reasons, including a lack of interest or an inadequate governing body. But no sport has been ejected from the Games for anything illegal, amoral, or lacking in principle, so dropping cycling would have set a dangerous precedent.
Still it’s not a surprise that the UCI feared this reality after former World Anti-Doping Agency president and IOC vice president Dick Pound told CNN he believed this was a “watershed moment” for cycling.
“We have to get this act together very quickly,” Pound said. “It is entirely likely that this was not the only team in the peloton involved in organizing cheating… If they don’t get their act together, it could spin out of control.”
We’re probably well beyond out of control after seeing the sport’s most popular athlete dubbed a fraud, but the problems have been addressed and some even removed. Cycling’s perception is tarnished worldwide, but London couldn’t have gone better for the sport. Where it goes from here is the important next step.