Doping ban rules Armstrong out of Ironman

Last updated 17:16 11/10/2012
Waikato Times

Former pro-cyclist Stephen Swart, who originates from Morrinsville, is a former teammate of Lance Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong
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DAMNING EVIDENCE: 11 former team-mates has testified against Lance Armstrong, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced before it released its decision on the former seven-time Tour de France champion.

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The great unanswered question for triathlon will always be whether Lance Armstrong could have won the Hawaiian Ironman.

Armstrong had planned to make his debut at triathlon's most famous event this weekend, but his lifetime doping ban rules him out because the race organisers are signatories to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

His entry would have meant a massive boost in publicity for the  race.

World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) chief executive Andrew Messick  chose his words carefully on Wednesday when asked for his reaction  to Armstrong's ban.The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has now released evidence it  compiled against the seven-time Tour de France champion, including  testimonies from former cycling teammates.

''There's no joy in this for me or our company,'' Messick said.

''Those of us who love the sport and love competition will always  wonder what might have happened and whether he would be good enough  to win (in Hawaii).''I don't know, but we all wanted to find out.

''On the other hand, sports are governed by rules and it's by  having and enforcing rules, it's the only way you can guarantee  fairness.''

Armstrong originally raced in triathlons as a highly-rated  teenager in the late 1980s before switching to cycling.

After retiring from cycling, he switched back to triathlon and  had shown strong in half-Ironman distance races.

Armstrong was due to make his Ironman debut in June, but the WTC  reluctantly decided not to let him because he was under an open  doping investigation.

The WTC will review that rule at the end of the year.

Once he decided not to contest the USADA allegations and was  banned for life, Armstrong could no longer consider Hawaii.

He still races in non-sanctioned triathlons.

Australia's reigning Hawaiian champion Craig Alexander said one  of his big motivations this year was to race against Armstrong.

The WTC had also planned to undertake a major partnership with  Armstrong and his Livestrong cancer charity before he was banned.

''We've told him ... we need to see how these next weeks unfold,'' 

Messick said.

''We're responsible for the Ironman brand and we need to be  careful and mindful of that.

''We are hopeful that whatever happens, the message and the work  that Livestrong is undertaking continues.

''Lance has been an enormous, powerful force for the good in the  cancer community.''

Armstrong has regularly trained on Hawaii's Big Island, where  the Ironman is held, and there has been speculation he will be in  Kailua-Kona on Saturday for the race.

''I don't know, but I suspect I would know if he was here,''  Messick said.

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