The UCI has announced that Oscar Pereiro is now officially the winner of the 2006 Tour de France after Floyd Landis lost his appeal and was handed a two year suspension. Landis is still weighing his options regarding an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a move which will add more financial pressure to the American, who spent $2 million on the appeal which he lost.
"Following the decision of the competent American authority to sanction the American cyclist Floyd Landis for doping, and in accordance with the International Cycling Unions regulation, the Spanish rider Oscar Pereiro is declared winner of the 2006 Tour de France," the UCI statement read.
Landis has one month to appeal the verdict to CAS, and the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, will wait until that process is over before making the ASO's official declaration. "Oscar Pereiro will be the winner of the 2006 Tour as soon as all the appeal procedures will be over," Prudhomme told Associated Press. "We feel a bit like Oscar Pereiro, who said himself that he would have preferred to have won under different circumstances."
Pereiro still stands a chance of being relegated back to runner-up if Landis appeals to CAS and wins, but for now he can call himself the Tour de France champion - something he hasn't been able to do for more than a year. "I have suffered prejudice from a publicity point of view," Pereiro told Marca. "It isn't the same to negotiate my future as a runner-up as to do it as the winner of the Tour."
Pereiro shares a similar fate as current Vuelta a España leader Denis Menchov, who took second in the 2005 Vuelta but then was declared the winner after Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO. Unipublic general director Ignacio Ayuso was glad to see his countryman crowned the Tour champion at long last. "We can (now) recognize Oscar Pereiro's rightful victory in the Tour instead of having to live with a cheat's," Ayuso told Reuters.
Ayuso said that this action "shows just how serious we are in getting rid of the cheats from this sport", and congratulated the UCI and antidoping agencies for coming to the conclusion.
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