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Cookson slams Armstrong's Tour ride
17 Mar 2015 10:10
Cycling boss Brian Cookson has branded Lance Armstrong "completely disrespectful" for aiming to ride the Tour de France route this summer for charity.
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Cookson, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), suggested Armstrong "would be well-advised not to take part" in former England footballer Geoff Thomas' charity fundraising mission.
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Thomas has convinced shamed drugs cheat Armstrong to take part in his charity stunt, riding the Tour route one day ahead of the professional peloton.
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Cookson said the UCI has no authority to stop Amstrong's bid, but urged the American, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, to think again.
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"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," said Cookson.
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"I think Lance would be well-advised not to take part in that."
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Armstrong in January complained he was prevented from even walking an organised marathon to raise funds for charity.
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From next summer, however, the World Anti-Doping Agency code (section 10.12.1) will permit the Texan to participate in sports other than cycling and triathlon. He was banned for life from those sports in August 2012.
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Cookson rejected the argument Armstrong should be handed some slack despite his life ban from cycling, even though his summer stunt ostensibly could raise big funds for charity.
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Speaking at the Sport Industry Breakfast Club in central London, Cookson said of Armstrong's charity angle: "I've heard that reason rolled out throughout Lance A's career as well.
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"I'm not critical of people trying to raise funds for charity, let's be clear. But I think maybe Lance could find a better way of continuing his fundraising efforts than this.
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"Lance Armstrong can ride his bike around France as often as he likes, it's got nothing to do with me or the UCI."
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Asked if he would not be cheering on Armstrong's mission this summer, Cookson said: "I think you can make that assumption."
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