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International Cycling Union takes drastic action amid financial ‘crisis’

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GENEVA (AP) — The International Cycling Union took “some drastic action” on Thursday to cut costs amid a revenue shortfall from hundreds of events canceled or postponed during the coronavirus pandemic, including the Tokyo Olympics.

Cycling’s financial outlook is among the bleakest revealed by an Olympic sport’s governing body since the Tokyo Games were rescheduled to 2021.

UCI president David Lappartient and other managers have reduced salaries and allowances, and all 130 employees at its Swiss headquarters and training center are on full or partial furlough.

“Our international federation is going through a crisis that we haven’t experienced since the Second World War,” Lappartient said.

The 28 core Summer Games sports were due to share at least $540 million from the IOC in Tokyo Olympic revenues.

The UCI reported getting 25 million Swiss francs ($25.75 million) from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. It could have expected the same or more in 2020 for organizing 22 medal events in road and track events, mountain biking and BMX.

Now the UCI warns the one-year delay in Tokyo “will lead to a considerable loss of earnings.”

“We need to anticipate both a possible postponement — to 2021 — of the payment of Olympic revenues initially expected in the second semester of 2020, and a probable reduction of the sum paid to the International Federations,” the cycling body said.

The IOC said last week it was too early to comment on possible financial plans with the governing bodies.

For the UCI, hosting and registration fees paid by race organizers including world championships added up to 45% of its 181 million Swiss francs ($187 million) revenue from 2015-18, according to its most recent accounts.

The UCI said it will reimburse registration fees paid for races later canceled. It has received “more than 650 requests” to postpone or cancel events through August.

However, the Tour de France is still due to start June 27 and the Sept. 20-27 road world championships, racing past UCI headquarters in Aigle, “would appear to be safe.”

The UCI’s financial reserves — about 45 million Swiss francs ($46.5 million) in its accounts for 2018 — are also taking a hit.

“Our asset portfolio has suffered from the effects of the pandemic on the financial markets, combined with the collapse of oil prices,” the governing body said.

The UCI is likely to be eligible for financial help, including interest-free loans, in an emergency program approved last month by the Swiss federal government.

MORE: Most decorated U.S. female Olympian on front line of coronavirus fight

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Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

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Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

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The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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