Head of cycling’s governing body Brian Cookson has branded disgraced former cyclist Lance Armstrong’s plan to ride part of this year’s Tour de France route for charity as ‘disrespectful.
Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles because of blood doping, has been invited by former English footballer and fellow cancer survivor Geoff Thomas to join him in raising money for a leukaemia charity.
UCI chief Cookson said that he can’t think of better words than disrespectful and inappropriate to the Tour de France, the current riders, the UCI and anti-doping over Armstrong riding on some or all of the route one day before the race, Stuff.co.nz reported.
Cookson claimed that the charity justification was used quite a lot throughout his career and that got them into all sorts of a mess which is well documented. He added that it looks like Armstrong was persuaded into it and if he was it’s not a good judgment.
Cookson claimed that he believes Armstrong would be well-advised not to take part in that. He said that he has never met the former American cyclist or spoken to him on the phone or by email, adding that he is not unhappy with that situation, but he believes there’s a message that he is giving out.
Cookson said that he had no authority to stop Armstrong joining the charity ride while Thomas, who rode the Tour route 10 years ago after going into remission for chronic myeloid leukaemia , defended the Texan, saying that he would only ride a few stages.
Former England midfielder Thomas said that at first Armstrong was suspicious, but he worked on him, told him about what the charity does, and he was intrigued. He claimed that what he saw was somebody who was frustrated that he couldn’t do that type of work with ‘LiveStrong’ anymore.
Thomas insisted that it’s a great opportunity to get Armstrong back into that realm, and hopefully in future help him make millions of pounds for charity again.