An independent commission is to investigate allegations made against the UCI over its handling of the Lance Armstrong doping affair.

In an announcement this afternoon, the UCI confirmed that no-one will replace Armstrong as winner of the Tour de France between 1999-2005. 

The decision was widely expected given so many riders that finished behind Armstrong have also been associated with doping offences.

The UCI also announced that it was suspending legal action against journalist Paul Kimmage pending the findings of the independent commission.

Kimmage had alleged the UCI covered up a suspicious Armstrong test.

Former cyclists Both Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton have also accused the UCI of covering up an Armstrong positive test for EPO at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

The UCI, however, denied covering up the test, producing what it said was evidence that an Armstrong sample was 'suspicious', not 'positive'.

Allegations were levelled at the UCI for accepting donations from Armstrong, and, although any wrongdoing is denied, the management committee will now commission the independent investigation

"We did not cover up anything because there was nothing to be covered up," said UCI President McQuaid this week.

Three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond was among those to call for a change of leadership, but McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, now honorary president, have so far stood firm.

Today's UCI statement said: "While continuing strongly to maintain the merits of UCI's case, the committee decided to seek to suspend the UCI legal action against journalist Paul Kimmage, pending the findings of the independent commission.

"UCI president Pat McQuaid and honorary president Hein Verbruggen who are individual parties to the case will similarly seek to put their cases on hold."

The investigation will begin next month, with recommendations expected to be published no later than 1 June 2013.

On 10 October USADA published a report into Armstrong which said the now-retired rider had been involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Armstrong, who had always denied doping, declined to contest the charges, prompting USADA to propose his punishment pending confirmation from cycling's world governing body which came on Monday.

Former Armstrong team mates testified against him and were given reduced bans by the American authorities as a result.

The Armstrong affair has ripped a hole through the heart of the sport.

At this week's route presentation for next summer's 100th Tour, the 41-year-old Texan's sequence of seven straight wins were marked using asterisks. The results will now be omitted entirely.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme believed no one should replace Armstrong as winner, as few racing in the era are untainted by doping, particularly the use of blood-booster EPO. He now has his wish.

Armstrong declined the opportunity to cooperate with USADA, but following Monday's ruling removed the reference to his seven Tour wins from his Twitter profile.