Armstrong fears Tour ban

Lance Armstrong believes there is a “very high likelihood” he will not be allowed to compete in this year’s Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong believes there is a “very high likelihood” he will not be allowed to compete in this year’s Tour de France.

The 37-year-old is facing the possibility of sanctions from the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) after being accused of violating rules during a random test in March.

The American, a seven-time Tour de France winner, is accused of “not respecting the obligation to remain under the direct and permanent observation” of the tester.

He now expects the matter to be taken further by the AFLD.

“They have an issue. They want to open up proceedings or disciplinary hearings.” Armstrong told Sky Sports News.

“It’s unfortunate. I know that we have a long history there and I know that certainly my comeback wasn’t welcomed by a lot of people in France, which is unfortunate.

“We just have to wait and see. I suspect this will escalate and we’ll see even more antics out of the AFLD in the near future and there’s a very high likelihood they’d prohibit me from riding in the Tour.”

Armstrong recently returned to competitive cycling after a three-and-a-half-year break and had been aiming to compete in the Tour despite breaking his collarbone during a race in Spain last month.

“It’s too bad,” he added on the prospect of missing out. “The Tour is something I love dearly, something I wanted to ride in, one of the races I wanted to be competitive... either go for victory or help (Astana team-mates) Alberto (Contador) or Levi (Leipheimer) get a victory.”

The agency carried out tests on Armstrong’s hair, urine and blood but found no traces of drugs.

The row stems from an unscheduled visit from an AFLD tester to the veteran’s residence during a training stint in France.

The American insisted on having the tester’s identity checked – he took a 20-minute shower in the interim period – before letting him carry out his duties.

Armstrong denied any wrongdoing in a statement released on Wednesday.

He said: “I had never heard of labs or governments doing drug testing and I had no idea who this guy was or whether he was telling the truth.

“We asked the tester for evidence of his authority. We looked at his papers but they were far from clear or impressive and we still had significant questions about who he was or for whom he worked.

“I was there with (team manager) Johan Bruyneel and two other people. We told the tester we wanted to check with the (governing body) UCI to confirm who he was and to make sure he wasn’t just some French guy with a backpack and some equipment to take my blood and urine.

“Johan had confirmed with the UCI that the tester had authority from the French government to take samples. I immediately provided blood, urine and hair samples – all the samples that he requested, as he requested.

“In addition, the form asked the tester to state if there were any irregularities or further observations from the testing process and to that he wrote ’no’.

“I have learned that, after the tests were all negative, the laboratory has now suggested that the 20-minute delay should be investigated.

“I find it amazing that I’ve been tested 24 times without incident and the first test I do in France results in more outrageous allegations and negative leaks to the press.

“This is just another example of the improper behaviour by the French laboratory and the French anti-doping organisations.

“I am sorry that they are disappointed that all the tests were negative but I do not use any prohibited drugs or substances.”

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