IOC: Cycling not in jeopardy at Olympics

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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.

Chris Froome can clinch Tour de France title No. 4 in time trial

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Chris Froome moved one step closer to his fourth Tour de France title by finishing in the same time as his rivals in the 19th of 21 stages on Friday.

Now, Froome focuses on a 14-mile time trial in Marseille on Saturday, where he is heavily favored to defend his 23-second lead over Frenchman Romain Bardet and 29-second advantage on Colombian Rigoberto Uran.

Sunday’s finale — the ride into Paris — is traditionally not a day for attacking the yellow jersey.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

On Friday, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen won his first Tour stage in six years on the three-week event’s longest day (138 miles). Boasson Hagen pulled away from an eight-rider group in the last two miles and crossed five seconds ahead of German Nikias Arndt.

Froome, Bardet and Uran were in the large group finishing about 10 minutes later.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Froome, 32, is trying to move within one Tour title of the career record of five shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Froome has been the anchor of cycling’s most powerful team — Team Sky — for five seasons now. Every time the rail-thin Brit has reached the Champs-Élysées in that time, he has been wearing the yellow jersey. The only miss was when he abandoned on Stage 5 in 2014 after crashing three times in two days.

Bardet, 26, was runner-up to Froome in last year’s Tour by 4:05. No Frenchman has won the Tour since Hinault in 1985 — the host nation’s longest victory drought.

Uran, 30 and the 2012 Olympic road race silver medalist, is trying to become the first South American to win the Tour.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

WATCH LIVE: Usain Bolt in final race before world championships

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Usain Bolt races for the last time before his farewell world championships, live during NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold‘s coverage of a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Bolt will put his four-year winning streak on the line in a 100m race against his toughest field since the Rio Olympics.

The race start is set for 3:35 p.m. A meet preview is here.

The Jamaican will retire after racing the 100m and 4x100m worlds in London in August, with Monaco being his only other meet left this season.

WATCH LIVE: Usain Bolt races in Monaco — 2 p.m. ET

There are doubts about Bolt’s form with worlds in two weeks. He failed to break 10 seconds in his first two races this season in June before seeing his German doctor to work on his chronically balky back.

Fortunately for Bolt, nobody else is performing that well this season, either. None of his top rivals in recent years — Yohan BlakeAndre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin — have broken 9.90 seconds this season.

The Monaco field includes two of the five fastest men in the world this year — South African Akani Simbine and American Chris Belcher — and four men overall who have broken 10 seconds in 2017.

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MORE: Bolt says women are outperforming men in sprints