Paris: The winner's list of the world's most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France, is likely to have a seven-year gap, after organisers said Friday they were against re-attributing disgraced rider Lance Armstrong's wins.
The development came as the sport's world governing body said it was studying the extensive dossier on the Texan as a "priority", amid calls for its honorary president to quit and the possibility of legal action against three Spaniards implicated.
Armstrong, who has consistently denied taking banned substances, was this week placed at the heart of what the USADA called "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme" ever seen in sport.
The organisation announced on August 23 that Armstrong was guilty of doping violations and recommended he was stripped of his career victories, raising questions about who would replace him at the top of the Tour podium between 1999 and 2005.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said he was against re-allocating Armstrong's victories, describing the revelations contained in the USADA's 202-page "reasoned decision" and more than 1,000 pages of supporting testimony as "damning".
"What we want is that there is no winner," he said in his first comments on the report, calling the period a "lost decade" for the sport, which has been trying to clean up its act in recent years.
Prudhomme's statement comes even though the International Cycling Union (UCI) has not confirmed the USADA's findings but could head off further controversy.
Replacing Armstrong as Tour winner has been a source of debate since August, given that the majority of those who finished second or third -- and even lower down the field -- have subsequently been implicated in doping scandals.
Finding a rider untouched by links to performance-enhancing drug use would have been a difficult -- if not impossible -- task.
Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid said it was still studying the USADA dossier against Armstrong.
"The legal department has been told that this is a priority, that we get the job done as quickly as possible and certainly within that time frame we will be back," he said on the sidelines of the Tour of Beijing.
The UCI -- under pressure to explain how drug cheats managed to avoid detection -- has strenously denied claims from a former team-mate of Armstrong that he donated money to cover-up a positive dope test in the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.
British cyclist David Millar, who served a two-year doping ban but is now on the athletes' committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency, called for UCI honorary president Hein Verbruggen to resign in the wake of the revelations.
The Dutchman was president of the UCI as Armstrong powered his way into the history books and last year said he was convinced the racer had "never, never, never" doped.
Millar told Britain's domestic Press Association news agency in an interview that the UCI had to take some responsibility, as it was "obvious" from blood data and medical reports that doping was part of cycling's culture, particularly in big races.
"There was only a tiny minority getting good results without drugs and they really were the outsiders. The first step for the UCI is that Verbruggen has to be removed," he added, calling for him to admit that mistakes were made.
Tour de France director Prudhomme, however, called the UCI "pioneers" in the fight against drug use, highlighting the introduction of biological passports and increased testing, including out of competition.
British rider Bradley Wiggins also pointed out that widespread doping was not part of the current professional cycling culture.
"I don't think that is relevant to what we are doing today. What we are doing today is setting the example for our sport," the 2012 Tour winner told Britain's Sky News television.
Elsewhere, the Spanish anti-doping agency said it was likely the public prosecutor would be informed over the alleged involvement of two doctors and a trainer in doping activities on Spanish soil.