Lance Armstrong is going back to the Tour de France.
But he’s not going back to race, the BBC reports; he’s going back to raise money for the charity Cure Leukaemia, and not without controversy.
He’ll be riding two stages of the Tour route a day ahead of the actual race, with fellow cancer survivor and ex-England soccer player Geoff Thomas.
Thomas told the BBC:
“We know Lance’s involvement has split opinion, so we’ve tried to be as respectful as possible.”
“The stages Lance will be riding come towards the end of week two, when I know all the riders will need some support.
“I know his arrival will give them the encouragement they will need to carry on with this gruelling challenge and in turn raise as much money as possible for blood cancer patients.”
But many are not happy with Armstrong returning to the Tour, a race he won seven times before being stripped of his titles for using PEDs.
Brian Cookson, the president of the UCI, the sport’s governing body, doesn’t want Armstrong to do it, reports AFP:
“I’m sure that Geoff Thomas means well, but frankly, I think that’s completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Tour, disrespectful to the current riders, and disrespectful to the UCI and the anti-doping community,” Cookson told the Sport Industry Breakfast Club in London.
“I think Lance would be well-advised not to take part in that.” Armstrong was banned for life from competing in cycling and triathlon by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in August 2012 and Cookson said the Texan’s charitable motives did not make his stunt more palatable.
The manager of one of the top teams in pro cycling, Sky’s Dave Brailsford, said Armstrong had “done enough damage,” the BBC reported.
“For the sake of all clean riders in the peloton, who’ve already suffered enough from that era, leave them alone — enough’s enough,” Brailsford said.
More to come.
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