Lance Armstrong says French may ban him from the Tour
April 10, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas ” Lance Armstrong believes French doping officials may ban him from riding in this summer’s Tour de France over a report that he violated protocols during a recent drug test.
“There’s a very high likelihood that they prohibit me from riding in the Tour,” a somber Armstrong said Friday in a video statement posted on his Web site. “It’s too bad. The tour is something I love dearly.”
France’s anti-doping agency, known as AFLD, has said the American did not fully cooperate with a drug tester when he showed up at Armstrong’s home in France to collect blood, urine and hair samples from the cyclist on March 17.
Although no banned substances were found, the dispute revolves around a 20-minute delay when Armstrong went inside the house and took a shower while his assistants checked the tester’s credentials.
The seven-time Tour winner said he asked the tester for permission to go inside and it was granted. The AFLD says Armstrong “did not respect the obligation to remain under the direct and permanent observation” of the tester.
According to Armstrong, the tester wrote “no” on the section of the official paperwork that asks if there was anything irregular about the test.
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Armstrong has had tense relations with France’s anti-doping authorities for years, but had been hoping to coexist with them while he tries for an eighth Tour title in July after coming out of a 3 1/2-year retirement.
“I know we have a lot of history there,” Armstrong said. “I know that certainly my comeback wasn’t welcomed by a lot of people in France. It’s unfortunate.”
Armstrong recorded the statement from Aspen, Colo., where he has spent a few days training as he tries to return from a fractured collarbone suffered last month during a race in Spain.
He predicted the dispute will continue to escalate and “we’ll see even more antics out of the AFLD in the near future.”
Armstrong said the disputed test was his 24th out-of-competition test since his comeback began last September.
A ban from the Tour, a race he dominated with consecutive wins from 1999-2005, would be a major blow to Armstrong’s cycling plans.
Although he has scheduled another top race, the Giro d’Italia in May, the Tour de France remains cycling’s crown jewel.
Armstrong has said the main focus of his return is to continue spreading his anti-cancer message to a global audience. Armstrong was diagnosed in 1996 with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.
“The comeback has been important to me for two main reasons: I have a passion for cycling still, but more importantly I have a passion for the global fight against cancer,” Armstrong said.
“Certainly we wanted to tell that story in France,” he said. “If we can’t do, we can’t do that. That’s really their call. It’s their event, their country and their rules.”
The video was posted on the same day that the head of world cycling defended Armstrong, accusing the French agency of unprofessional and “disturbing” behavior. The French tests were not under the jurisdiction of the International Cycling Union.
“The fact (is) the test was done and was a matter of fact reported by Lance Armstrong himself on Twitter,” UCI president Pat McQuaid told the BBC. “Then the French authorities decided to make up a report on the testing procedure, forward it to the UCI ” knowing that the UCI have no jurisdiction in this case ” and at the same time that report has leaked to the press.
“So I would have to question why is that the case? I would have to say that the French are not acting very professionally in this case.”
McQuaid said proceedings between anti-doping agencies and the UCI are supposed to be kept confidential until “a decision to open up the case has been taken.”
“But this case, it has leaked to the press and I do find that disturbing,” he said.
On the Net:
Armstrong statement: http://www.livestrong.com/lance-armstrong/