Tour de France officials wary of Armstrong return
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme and his collegues are expressing concerns over Lance Armstrong’s intentions to return to cycling.
Armstrong announced Tuesday he will be coming out of his three-year bike-riding hiatus to compete for an unprecedented eighth Tour de France title in 2009. Armstrong won the event seven consecutive times from 1999-2005.
Prudhomme told The Associated Press Wednesday that he and other Tour organizers are on guard about suspicions concerning the 36-year-old cancer survivor that initially surfaced nearly ten years ago and coincided with the beginning of Armstrong’s historical streak. In 2005, a French newspaper reported that Armstrong had used the performance enhancing drug EPO prior to his win in 1999.
Investigators later cleared Armstrong of all charges a year later.
Prudhomme said his organization’s unwillingness to embrace Armstrong’s return is predicated upon not only allegations involving the seven-time champ, but the recent positive testing of several high-profile cyclists, including American rider and former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis, who had his 2006 Tour de France crown taken away after it was determined he was using testosterone.
Armstrong has maintained his innocence in numerous doping allegations and has consented to hundreds of drug tests over the course of his career. He has never tested positive.
Since Armstrong’s retirement, the Tour has been riddled with doping controversaries that have, in turn, led to anti-doping regulations and testing methods that are now more stringent than ever, Prudhomme says.
“All the Tour riders, and Lance Armstrong if that is the case, they will have to submit to rules that were harder than they were before, because it is necessary.”