Lance Armstrong returns Sydney Olympic medal to officials

REUTERS - Disgraced retired cyclist Lance Armstrong has returned his 2000 Olympic medal to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) nine months after he was stripped of it, USOC officials said on Thursday.

"I can confirm that the United States Olympic Committee has received the bronze medal awarded to Lance Armstrong at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement.

"The International Olympic Committee and the USOC had previously requested that the medal be returned. The USOC has made arrangements to return the medal to the IOC."

The confirmation came shortly after Armstrong had tweeted: "The 2000 Bronze is back in possession of @usolympics and will be in Switzerland asap."

The American lost his seven Tour de France titles last year and in January admitted to years of performance-enhancing substance use in the most spectacular drugs case in recent years.

Following his public confession, the IOC ordered the return of the bronze medal he won in the time-trial at the Sydney 2000 Games and declared the race results void.

Thomas Bach, who was elected president of the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, had said the previous day the organisation was still seeking the medal.

"We will continue to work with the United States Olympic Committee to get this medal back as requested in our decision," Bach, previously an IOC vice president and head of its juridical commission, told an IOC session in Buenos Aires.

"This (the IOC's January) decision has been communicated to Mr Armstrong and the USOC. This decision has not been appealed neither by Mr Armstrong, nor by the USOC and what we are lacking, sadly, is getting back the medal. Legally the case for the IOC is closed."

The once-revered athlete is battling to hang on to what remains of his reputation and his earnings and is fighting several lawsuits, including one from the U.S. Justice Department.

In February, the Justice Department said it was joining a fraud suit filed in 2010 by Floyd Landis, a former Armstrong team mate. Landis filed the suit under a federal law that allows whistle-blowers to report fraud in exchange for a reward.

The U.S. Postal Service paid $40 million from 1998 to 2004 to have Armstrong and his team mates from Tailwind Sports wear its logo during record-breaking wins. At least $17.9 million of these fees went to Armstrong, according to the government.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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