UCI agrees to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour titles

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UCI agrees to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour titles

GENEVA (AP) -- Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by cycling's governing body Monday following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his teams.

International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid announced that the federation accepted USADA's report on Armstrong and would not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," McQuaid said at a news conference. "This is a landmark day for cycling."

The decision clears the way for Tour de France organizers to officially remove Armstrong's name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the race would go along with whatever cycling's governing body decides and will have no official winners for those years.

USADA said Armstrong should be banned and stripped of his Tour titles for "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong.

"I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report," McQuaid said, singling out the testimony of David Zabriskie. "The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind boggling."

Armstrong denies doping, saying he passed hundreds of drug tests. But he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency's arbitration hearings, arguing the process was biased against him. Former Armstrong team director Johan Bruyneel is also facing doping charges, but he is challenging the USADA case in arbitration.

On Sunday, Armstrong greeted about 4,300 cyclists at his Livestrong charity's fundraiser bike ride in Texas, telling the crowd he's faced a "very difficult" few weeks.

"I've been better, but I've also been worse," Armstrong, a cancer survivor, told the crowd.

While drug use allegations have followed the 41-year-old Armstrong throughout much of his career, the USADA report has badly damaged his reputation. Longtime sponsors Nike, Trek Bicycles and Anheuser-Busch have dropped him, as have other companies, and Armstrong also stepped down last week as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer awareness charity he founded 15 years ago after surviving testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and brain.

Armstrong's astonishing return from life-threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story that transcended the sport. However, his downfall has ended "one of the most sordid chapters in sports history," USADA said in its 200-page report published two weeks ago.

Armstrong has consistently argued that the USADA system was rigged against him, calling the agency's effort a "witch hunt."

If Armstrong's Tour victories are not reassigned there would be a hole in the record books, marking a shift from how organizers treated similar cases in the past.

When Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory for a doping violation, organizers awarded the title to Andy Schleck. In 2006, Oscar Pereiro was awarded the victory after the doping disqualification of American rider Floyd Landis.

USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong's era.

The agency said 20 of the 21 riders on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been "directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations" or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists "similarly tainted by doping."

The world's most famous cyclist could still face further sports sanctions and legal challenges. Armstrong could lose his 2000 Olympic time-trial bronze medal and may be targeted with civil lawsuits from ex-sponsors or even the U.S. government.

In total, 26 people -- including 15 riders -- testified that Armstrong and his teams used and trafficked banned substances and routinely used blood transfusions. Among the witnesses were loyal sidekick George Hincapie and admitted dopers Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

USADA's case also implicated Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, depicted as the architect of doping programs, and longtime coach and team manager Bruyneel.

Ferrari -- who has been targeted in an Italian prosecutor's probe -- and another medical official, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, received lifetime bans.

Bruyneel, team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose "Pepe" Marti opted to take their cases to arbitration with USADA. The agency could call Armstrong as a witness at those hearings.

Bruyneel, a Belgian former Tour de France rider, lost his job last week as manager of the RadioShack-Nissan Trek team which Armstrong helped found to ride for in the 2010 season.

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Behind Gausman, Orioles win round 2 in 'Beltway Battle'

Behind Gausman, Orioles win round 2 in 'Beltway Battle'

BALTIMORE—Now that Chris Tillman is headed to the disabled list, Kevin Gausman will be more important than ever to the Orioles.

On Tuesday night, Gausman showed just how important he can be with six shutout innings against the Washington Nationals.

With Dylan Bundy, Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley and now Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation, Gausman’s role will be much more prominent. 

Gausman’s second straight win, the first time he’s done that in more than two years, gave the Orioles an 8-1 win over the Nationals, their second straight win in the Battle of the Beltways before 26,697 at Oriole Park. 

It was the first time Gausman won two straight since June 2014 when he won three in a row. In his next start, he’ll try and forget his road woes when he faces the New York Yankees on Sunday. Gausman hasn’t won on the road since Aug. 17, 2014.

He knows that Tillman will be hard to replace. 

“It’s going to be huge, especially this time of year. Every game matters from here on out, especially in a tight race in the east. We’re sad to miss him, but hopefully a little bit of rest will get him to come back and he’ll be ready to go,” Gausman said. 

Dylan Bundy dazzled the Nationals on Monday, and Gausman was effective enough to hold the lead the Orioles gave him.

“You could say there were a lot of deep counts and a lot of pitches in three or four or five innings, but you can’t drop your guard against those guys. They have so many landmines through their order that you’ve just got to keep grinding. We’ll take the finished product. He gave us six shutout innings and Kevin wanted to go another inning. I feel good, knock on wood, about the way he and Dylan feel right now this time of year,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

The Orioles (69-56) knocked out Reynaldo Lopez (2-2) out in the third after six runs scored. 

Mark Trumbo, who hadn’t had a hit that wasn’t a home run since Aug. 11, scored Adam Jones in the first on an RBI single. Trumbo, the only player this year who had seven straight hits that were home runs, was out at second. 

Matt Wieters’ double and Jones’ single gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead in the second. 

Three more runs scored in the third on a Jonathan Schoop RBI double and a two-run error with the bases loaded by Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy. 

Lopez left after the error.

“I think we just waited him out. Lopez, the guy has electric stuff, sitting at 96 to 98 with a sharp curveball, good changeup. We just made him work, made him throw strikes, got to favorable counts. He's got good stuff, so be sure to pay attention to him in his future,” Jones said. 

Showalter won three replay challenges in the first three innings. Twice, Washington center fielder Trea Turner was ruled safe at second on a stolen base, and twice the call was overturned. 

In the bottom of the third, Jones beat out an infield single after review. 

“It certainly helped. We needed each one of them. It kept any momentum from getting going,” Showalter said. 

The Orioles are now 19-for-32 on replay challenges. Their three correct challenges equal the major league season high. 

Jones ended up with four singles, equaling his career high. 

“We know how to hit also. We've got a lot of professional hitters here who know how to hit with men in scoring position, not just homers,” Jones said. 

Gausman (5-10) left after six.

“It was good. I got away with some pitches early, and had some balls go foul. That was pretty big. I didn’t necessarily pitch great, but it’s just one of those days where you try to keep grinding and look up and somehow, I didn’t give up a run,” Gausman said.

Vance Worley allowed a run in the seventh on four singles. Danny Espinosa’s RBI single was the only run for the Nationals (73-52). 

Chris Davis hit his 30th home run of the season in the eighth. It’s the fourth time in his Orioles career he’s hit 30.  

Worley worked three innings for his first career save. 

NOTES: The Orioles are planning to visit Walter Reed National Military Center on Wednesday. … Wade Miley (7-10, 5.58) faces Tanner Roark (13-6, 2.87) on Wednesday at Nationals Park. 
 

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Nats fall on wrong side of three challenges by Orioles manager Showalter

Nats fall on wrong side of three challenges by Orioles manager Showalter

Manager Dusty Baker is new to MLB's system of replay challenges as the first-year skipper of the Washington Nationals. There have been times this season where the rules have helped Baker and his team. Tuesday night was not one of those times.

Buck Showalter of the Orioles matched an MLB season-high with three successful manager challenges in the Nats' 8-1 loss at Camden Yards. Two of them pulled Trea Turner off the basepaths. One of them ruled Adam Jones safe to extend an inning.

The two Turner ones hurt the most, as they contributed to a long night for the Nationals offense, one in which they landed 10 hits but scored just one run. Turner was ruled out on two steal attempts at second base. One was in the first inning after he led off the game with a single. The other was in the third inning, again after he got on with a single.

Both plays featured throws by Orioles catcher Matt Wieters that were to the right of the bag, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop was able to pull the ball in and make the tag with Turner sliding past him.

"You can’t do anything if the throws are towards first base," Baker said. "They weren’t very good throws. It just happens they were very good tags. You got a 6-foot-4, long-armed second baseman, and most people don’t even get down in that position to make that tag."

Turner agreed on the throws and wished, in a sense, they were more on target.

"I just wish he would have made good throws right over the bag, I think I have a better chance that way," he said. "Throw gets taken up the line, you know he can put the tag on you a little bit faster and that's what happened tonight."

Getting Turner, one of the fastest players in baseball, into scoring position generally leads to good things. The Nats instead had him sent back to the dugout after lengthy delays while the umpires conferred with New York.

Both Baker and Turner stewed over the replay system itself as they waited. And afterwards each made their opinions clear.

"Don't care for it too much. I don't think I or we or anybody on this side has really benefit from it, so for that reason I don't really care for it," Turner said.

Baker was much more direct and descriptive.

"Number one, I just think it takes too long… they've gotta do something to correct the length of time. Maybe after 30 seconds if they're inconclusive, then come up with whatever the umpire said," Baker said.

"It sort of makes a point of why do we need umpires, if you're going to dispute everything that they say? I don't know. I'm kind of new this year to replay, but it's tough to lose three of them… To me, it doesn't make the umpires look very good. I just hope they correct this."

[RELATED: Lopez rocked as Nats suffer lopsided loss to Orioles]

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What happens next as Tillman's injury will send him to disabled list

What happens next as Tillman's injury will send him to disabled list

BALTIMORE—Chris Tillman, the Orioles winningest pitcher, is going on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. 

Tillman, who was supposed to start against Max Scherzer at Nationals Park on Thursday, will miss that start and will be eligible to return on Sept. 5. 

He received a cortisone shot on his right shoulder, but there are no plans for an MRI. 

Tillman is 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA. He first experienced discomfort on Aug. 12, the day after he won his 15th game, pitching seven innings at Oakland. 

He was bumped from a scheduled start on Aug. 17, and started on Saturday, and allowed six runs in two-plus innings against Houston. 

After the game he said he felt fine, but he tried to throw in the bullpen Tuesday afternoon, and it didn’t go well. 

MORE ORIOLES: GAUSMAN GETS 2ND STRAIGHT WIN AS O'S TOP NATIONALS

“I thought once it got loose it would really go away but it never really did, and that was my first time actually experiencing it while throwing. Last time, I was pretty sore right after my start, but after feeling it today, I’d much rather just get this behind us and get out in front of it so that way we’re not worried about it for the rest of the year,” Tillman said. 

“I would have liked to have had better results, or response, from the last outing, but it just didn’t respond very well. So we’re trying to be safe, get this thing in the rear-view mirror. That way I’m not fighting it all year. That’s probably the best way to go about it.”

Tillman hopes the DL stint, which hasn’t been announced and will be backdated to Sunday, will allow him to pitch pain-free for the last few weeks of the regular season.

“I would think so, yes, but you know what? I’m going to take it day-by-day. That’s the only thing I can do right now. Play it by ear,” Tillman said. 

“It’s tough. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. It happened, and we’ve got to get better now. I think this is the best way to go about it, and we had talked about it a little. I’d rather feel better at the end of the season rather than fighting it all year.” 

Adam Jones, who was traded with Tillman from Seattle to the Orioles in 2008, is confident the Orioles will be able to overcome his loss.

“We are going to miss him on the mound. He’s still going to be here every day. I look at it as a time for him to go heal. We are still going to keep fighting, grinding and when he comes back hopefully after the 15 days, mid-September, whenever he does, he comes back fresh and ready to make his last three or four starts in a tight race,” Jones said. 

“You can look at it both ways. I want him to heal, but I want I him to heal and get better so he definitely helps us in the final push because he’s that important to our staff.”

Ubaldo Jimenez will take Tillman's spot on Thursday in Washington.