19 Mar 2015

Armstrong charity ride "disrespectful": UCI

12:23 pm on 19 March 2015

Lance Armstrong's plan to ride part of this year's Tour de France route for charity has been branded "disrespectful" by the head of cycling's governing body Brian Cookson.

The disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong.

The disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The disgraced American, stripped of his seven Tour titles because of blood doping, has been invited by fellow cancer survivor and former English soccer player Geoff Thomas to join him in raising money for a leukaemia charity.

Cookson says Lance Armstrong riding on some or all of the route one day before the race, I can't think of better words than disrespectful and inappropriate to the Tour de France, the current riders, the UCI and anti-doping.

He says the charity justification was used quite a lot throughout his career and that got us into all sorts of a mess which is well documented.

Cookson says 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 he would only ride a few stages.

Thomas says at first he was suspicious, but I worked on him, told him about what the charity does, and he was intrigued.

Thomas says he knew he'd get a reaction from people who may have not looked to deep into the story, and he believes the positives will outweigh that.

Asked whether he had any sympathy for Armstrong, who is trying to have a life ban from cycling imposed by American anti-doping body USADA reduced, Cookson was unequivocal.

"He has been singled out and made an exceptional case but then there aren't many who have won the Tour de France seven times by cheating, so he was an exceptional case."