SBD/Issue 245/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Tour De France Remains Cautious Of Lance Armstrong's Return

Tour De France Organizers Open To Allowing
Armstrong To Ride In Next Year's Race
Tour de France Race Dir Christian Prudhomme "did not rule out inviting" cyclist Lance Armstrong, who recently announced his intentions to return to racing, to ride in next year's Tour, but Prudhomme added that "much can happen between now and then," according to William Fotheringham of the Manchester GUARDIAN. Prudhomme: "You have to remember we are in mid-September and that a lot of water will run under the bridge before the Tour de France depart in Monaco [next July]." Team Astana GM Johan Bruyneel, who worked with Armstrong while serving in the same position for Team Discovery, yesterday said that "he was ready to work with his old leader once again if the chance arose." Bruyneel: "He won't have a problem finding a team. But it's clear that the relationship we have means that I can't allow him to go to another team. For me it would be nice to be a part of this." Team Astana cyclist Jose Luis Rubiera added, "Armstrong has got the character to do it and he would draw in millions in supporters again. At a sponsorship level, I can't see it doing anything but good" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 9/11).

OBSTACLES IN THE ROAD: Prudhomme "cautioned that anti-doping rules had become stricter since Armstrong last raced in 2005." USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal writes Prudhomme's comments are an "indication that Tour organizers are still suspicious that Armstrong circumvented doping rules during his seven-year win streak." Those suspicions "might also be an obstacle for joining" Team Astana, which was "banned from this year's Tour because of past doping offenses when it was under different management." Prudhomme has not indicated whether the team's ban would be lifted for the '09 race (USA TODAY, 9/11). The AP's Jerome Pugmire noted Armstrong's comeback plans "aren't being met with sweeping enthusiasm from the cyclists he hopes to race against." Team Astana cyclist Levi Leipheimer, who rode with Armstrong for one Tour while on the U.S. Postal Service team, "seemed soured by talk of riding with Armstrong again." Leipheimer: "I don't want to talk about it." Team QuickStep cyclist Tom Boonen: "Why is everybody so impressed? I'm surprised in a way that I don't know what he's got to win from it. If somebody feels like racing just let him race" (AP, 9/10).

Armstrong Hopes Comeback Will Boost
Ability To Raise Money For Cancer Research
WHAT'S THE MOTIVE? The WASHINGTON POST's Sally Jenkins in an online chat said Armstrong with his comeback is "interested in multiplying the money that can be raised to fight cancer on a very large scale, and his best platform for fundraising is aboard a bike, it's the best way for him to command attention." Jenkins, who has co-authored two books with Armstrong, said Armstrong has a "new lifestyle website that he's rolling out, on which he issues dares to his readers to compete in their every day lives, and he may want to put his own body where his mouth is. And he feels like he's fit enough and still viable enough to make a run at the thing" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/10). But in St. Louis, Dave Luecking wrote while Armstrong’s "stated reason to return is to turn his LiveStrong brand into an international cancer-fighting juggernaut, I figure he could have done that without returning to the bike" (STLTODAY.com, 9/10).

TO RIDE OR NOT TO RIDE: The BBC's Tom Fordyce writes for "those who see Armstrong as one of modern sport's great heroes, it's the best thing that could possibly happen to a sport that has lacked household names and good news since he retired." If Armstrong "rides the Tour and loses, it might tarnish his proud record," and if he wins, it "throws an unflattering light over every other rider in the sport" (BBC.co.uk, 9/11). But in Baltimore, Childs Walker writes, "I wish Lance Armstrong would stay retired from professional cycling." Armstrong is "fighting a battle that goes beyond his competitive legacy, and it's one he cannot win." If Armstrong in the Tour "rides poorly, critics will say he's incapable of greatness under stricter drug testing." But if Armstrong "wins, they'll say he's still a master at beating the system." If journalists "dig up more dirt, true or not, his legacy will be further tarnished" (Baltimore SUN, 9/11).

SPONSOR LOYALTY: The WASHINGTON POST's Jenkins said of Armstrong signing with a team, "I'd be extremely surprised if he did anything that conflicted with his loyalty to Nike and to Oakley, because they were there when no one else was. Extremely. However, if he got the okay from them to go in a different direction, he's a cool enough businessman to do it" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/10). A Portland OREGONIAN editorial stated despite the "close relationship" between Armstrong and Nike Chair Phil Knight, the brand "never quite managed the art of marketing cycling shoes or apparel," and "few in the bike biz were surprised when, soon after Armstrong retired, Nike backed out of the cycling business altogether." However, Nike does produce a "Livestrong line of off-the-bike clothing from which all profits go to Armstrong's foundation for fighting cancer" (OREGONLIVE.com, 9/10).

LANDIS NEXT? In London, Brendan Gallagher reports Floyd Landis, who was suspended two years following testing positive for testosterone during his '06 Tour de France win, "intends to resume competing in February." Landis is "reportedly on the point of announcing details of a contract to ride with a team formed by the Momentum Sports Group." Momentum Team Dir Mike Tamayo: "We are in negotiations for 2009, but as of yet we have not signed a contract" (London TELEGRAPH, 9/11).

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