The UCI today cleared Lance Armstrong's first comeback race in Australia at the 'Tour Down Under'. Armstrong's late entry into the anti-doping protocol held up the LA comeback. (AP)
Cycling's governing body is relaxing its rules to allow Lance Armstrong to make his comeback at a road race in Australia in January. The International Cycling Union said the seven-time Tour de France champion can compete in the Jan. 20-25 Tour Down Under, his first race since coming out of retirement after three years.
A strict application of testing rules would not have allowed the 37-year-old Texan to compete until Feb. 1, 2009, six months after he filed paperwork with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
But the UCI said Wednesday that Armstrong could return early because its drug-testing standards have improved since the rule was drawn up four years ago.
The Armstrong mystique must trump the rules. LA did not have to enter into the protocol for the required 6 months. Thus the old boy network of privilege continues on; if a cyclist is an elite world superstar he doesn't have to play by the rules. (Isn't this what got the Dow Jones and the stock market into trouble in part? Now if only the poor cyclists could get subprime anti-doping testing).
Wonder if LA tests positive for doping, do the rules get bent again?
"Riders are now subject to a much-reinforced system of monitoring compared to that of the past," the governing body said in a statement. "Lance Armstrong has and will be the subject of very strict monitoring throughout the period running up to his return to the peloton."
Armstrong's comeback is meant to draw attention to his global campaign to fight cancer, a disease he survived before winning seven straight Tours from 1999-2005.
It is also a defiant stand against critics who doubt he could have achieved those victories without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Now he is liable to be tested at any time without notice and will have his own biological passport as part of a UCI-backed initiative to monitor possible doping offenses.
Riders must give a series of blood and urine samples that allow a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory to establish a baseline. Fluctuations from those readings afterward could indicate doping.
So th rules will be broken if you are Lance Armstrong. Not an auspicious start to a comeback meant to show LA did it/will do it the right way.