Nice, France – Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will be denied entry to the Nice leg of the Ironman series due to an ongoing doping investigation into the American, the event organisers said Thursday.
Armstrong, whose career has been dogged by unfounded allegations of doping, is the subject of fresh allegations by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) which could lead to the stripping of his titles.
Organisers of the Nice Ironman, to be held June 24, said through spokeswoman Delphine Vivet: “The rules governing the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) state that no athletes under investigation can participate in the event.”
The decision, of which Armstrong had already been informed by the WTC, ends the American's plans for the French race following his victory at a recent, smaller triathlon event.
Armstrong had recently rented a villa in the region, at Cap d'Ail, and had been spotted at a pool used by some of France's top swimming stars including Yannick Agnel and Camille Muffat.
The eighth edition of the Nice Ironman is set to welcome 2000 athletes from 57 countries.
It begins with a 3.8 km swim in the Mediterranean, is followed by a bike race on a 180 km circuit and concludes with a full marathon over 42.195 km.
Usada chief executive Travis Tygart issued a statement Wednesday confirming “that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him (Armstrong) and to five additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service professional cycling team.
“These individuals include three team doctors and two team officials.
“This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations,” Tygart said.
Armstrong – who has vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs during his career – angrily said the new “baseless” charges stem from “discredited” allegations from the past.
“I have been notified that Usada... intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned,” Armstrong said in a statement.
He slammed the agency as “an organisation largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules.” – Sapa-AFP