The Tour de France organisers have apparently reinstated the Team CSC-Saxo Bank director Bjarne Riis as the official winner of the 1996 Tour de France, after having stricken his name from the books last year.
"We cannot rewrite history. Therefore we recognise Bjarne Riis as the winner of the 1996 Tour de France. But with an asterisk," said Philippe Sudres, media director for the Tour de France to Danish magazine Politiken. The Dane once more will be listed in the official media guide to the cycling classic, after his name and picture had been previously removed.
There was significant confusion after his doping confession in May 2007, and as part of the backlash, Riis was unwelcome at last year's edition of the Tour. "Last year, we removed Riis from the guide because it was so close to the start when he stood up and admitted that he had doped in connection with his victory in the Tour de France," added Sudres.
"Now he appears again in his earlier spot, but not exactly the same as the other winners. Immediately under his name we have written that he has admitted to doping during the Tour in 1996, but that the admission came so late, that according to the rules it cannot influence the result. Thus, on these grounds we have reinstated him as winner.
Riis was never stripped off his title officially by the International Cycling Union, as a ten-year period of limitation set by UCI rules had passed when the Dane made his confession.
"So maybe I have won after all," reacted Riis with a wry tone over the telephone to the magazine. "I have heard nothing about the organisers changing their minds, and I have in no way requested anything in this regard. I think I had a reasonable discussion with the French after last year's painful situation, but it had nothing to do with the question at hand. Of course I am happy, but now my attention is focused now supporting my team as best I can."