By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will investigate Lance Armstrong's 2000 Olympics bronze medal after the American was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the biggest doping scandal to hit the sport.
"The IOC will now immediately start the process concerning the involvement of Lance Armstrong, other riders and particularly their entourages with respect to the Olympic Games and their future involvement with the Games," an IOC official told Reuters on Thursday.
Armstrong, who won a time trial medal at the Sydney Games, was stripped of his 1999-2005 Tour victories last month when the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to erase his results from August, 1998.
A USADA report that included testimony from several former team mates against him and themselves, called it the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen".
Apart from stripping Armstrong's titles, the UCI also said it was setting up an independent commission to investigate allegations made against the UCI over the Armstrong affair.
"The IOC has taken note of the UCI's decision and welcomes all measures that will shed light on the full extent of this episode and allow the sport to reform and to move forward," the IOC official said.
"We await the findings of the independent commission which will look into the UCI's role, and the recommendations they will make to ensure a healthy future for cycling."
Armstrong, who overcame cancer to dominate the sport, has always denied doping and maintains he never failed a drugs test.
The IOC has an eight-year statute of limitation for changing Olympic results and stripping medals from doping offenders but IOC vice-president Thomas Bach hinted last month there could be ways around the time limit in this case.
"USADA's report has given some pointers that the statute of limitation was interrupted through Lance Armstrong lying about doping," Bach, a lawyer who heads the IOC's juridical commission told Reuters in an interview.
"We will have to examine to see if this is a way we can follow according to Swiss law."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John Mehaffey)