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The planned participation of Lance Armstrong in George Hincapie’s Gran Fondo this coming Saturday is under question after the US Anti Doping Agency raised questions about the banned rider’s participation in the event.
Armstrong received a lifetime ban from cycling in 2012 due to doping but has been confirmed as taking part in the Gran Fondo event.
He is listed on the official website as taking part, as are several other former US Postal/Discovery Channel riders. These include Hincapie, Kevin Livingston, Tom Danielson, Michael Barry and Christian Vande Velde. All bar Livingston received bans in relation to USADA’s investigation of past doping.
Those suspensions have expired but Armstrong remains banned from any official events.
The Gran Fondo Hincapie is listed on USA Cycling’s website as a Category F event. Responding to a question from CyclingTips, USA Cycling spokesman Bill Kellick confirmed Wednesday that the race was indeed an official USA Cycling event.
“It is a sanctioned event, but the determination about Lance’s participation rests with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency per Section 10.10.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code,” he stated.
That section states that “the determination of whether an Athlete or other Person has violated the prohibition against participation, and whether a reduction under Article 10.5.2 is appropriate, shall be made by the Anti-Doping Organization whose results management led to the imposition of the initial period of Ineligibility.”
Contacted about the matter, USADA confirmed to CyclingTips that it was looking into the situation.
“The WADA Code rules dictate that a sanctioned athlete cannot compete in an authorized event during that athlete’s period of ineligibility,” said a USADA spokesperson in response to the enquiry.
“After this question was brought to our attention, we reached out to USA Cycling, and we are awaiting their determination as to whether or not this Gran Fondo qualifies as an authorized event under the rules.”
Kellick subsequently confirmed that an update relating to the situation will be released later today.
One of those who testified under oath about the past doping practices on the US Postal Service team is Betsy Andreu, whose husband Frankie was part of the setup and admitted his own use of banned substances.
The duo gave sworn evidence during the 2004-2006 SCA Promotions hearing in relation to performance bonuses due to Armstrong in relation to his Tour wins, and testified that they hear the rider admit the use of banned substances to doctors treating him for testicular cancer in 1996.
Andreu said that she was concerned that Armstrong was planning to ride the event while serving a lifetime ban. She also pointed out that he would be riding alongside many current professionals. Those scheduled to take part include BMC Racing Team’s GC leader Tejay van Garderen, his team-mates Larry Warbasse and Brent Bookwalter, Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) plus several riders from the Hincapie Development Team.
Armstrong’s former coach Chris Carmichael’s coaching company is one of the official sponsors.
“I think it sends out the wrong signal, it shows that doping pays. Is it any wonder that people are very sceptical about the sport when someone with a lifetime ban still thinks the rules don’t apply?” Andreu told CyclingTips, then added wryly, “it’s too bad Michele Ferrari and Johan [Bruyneel] won’t be there since they were such an integral part of the success enjoyed by the old timers.”
Armstrong has thus far refused to provide any information to USADA. The agency had previously said that it would consider reducing his suspension if he cooperated, but he declined to do so.