Tour de France chief Patrice Clerc said runner-up Oscar Pereiro will be named the winner if Floyd Landis loses his appeal against doping charges.
"The 2006 Tour will have a winner and if Landis is found guilty of doping, justice would see Oscar Pereiro declared the winner," Clerc told the Spanish daily As.
Clerc was responding to comments Pereiro made to French sports daily L'Equipe, suggesting Tour officials were considering leaving this year's race without an official winner.
"I don't have a lot of information about this, but I wouldn't be there in 2007. Why should I go back if they don't respect the rules?" Pereiro said. "I want all this solved as soon as possible. All this talk of 'virtual winner' doesn't do anyone any good."
Under Tour rules, Landis would normally be stripped of his title if he lost his appeal and Clerc believes the Spaniard should think more along those lines.
"For now, [Pereiro] can enjoy all the privileges that come with being the best rider of the best tour in the world," Clerc said. "And one of them is to show off the leader's jersey in the first stage of the next Tour."
Landis made a remarkable overnight comeback during the 17th stage of this year's race, the most gruelling alpine leg of the Tour, making up nearly eight minutes on Pereiro.
That same day, a doping test showed Landis had elevated ratios of testosterone to epitestosterone, as well as the presence of synthetic testosterone.
In 2005, Spanish Vuelta winner Roberto Heras tested positive for the banned drug erythropoietin. Runner-up Denis Menchov was eventually named the winner.