Armstrong says he’s not dwelling on federal investigation
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Armstrong says he’s not dwelling on federal investigation

by VeloNation Press at 11:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Argues other sports handle contentious issues in a better way

Lance ArmstrongSoon-to-be retired Team RadioShack rider Lance Armstrong has said that he isn’t dwelling on the issue of the current federal investigation into the US Postal Service team, insisting that he’s got other things on his mind.

The 39 year old is one of many who are having their roles examined by FDA agent Jeff Novitzky and other investigators, who are seeking to ascertain if Floyd Landis’ accusations of widespread doping on the team are accurate.

A grand jury has been interviewing people connected with the case, Novitzky and others have been digging deep in the US and in Europe, and publications such as Sports Illustrated are said to be close to publishing major new details.

However the American has told the Sydney Morning Herald that he’s not preoccupied with the investigation. “I don't let it affect me,” Armstrong told journalist Rupert Guinness. “I have five kids to raise. I have a foundation to help run and lead. I still have, theoretically, a job - I ride my bike and train every day. It has no effect in what I do on a daily basis.”

The Texan has been spending time in Hawaii and is currently making final preparations for what will be his final international race, the Santos Tour Down Under. After that, Armstrong indicates that he will do US events such as the Tour of California, as well as some triathlons in order to prepare for the Hawaii Ironman next October.

He’s likely to have less and less to do with the world of cycling, particularly if the investigation backs up Landis’ allegations. He’s still following the sport now, though, and says that he’s frustrated by many issues that cause negative headlines. He specifically mentions race licensing, entries and radio protocols, but when questioned about the general state of the sport, he doesn’t appear happy.

“It's a long, long conversation that would take many, many beers to try and scratch the surface on,” he said. “But it's at a sensitive state right now. Other sports have a done a good job ignoring whatever issue they may or may not have; or dealing with it internally, or dealing with it through a players' union or teams' union or governing body.

''Our [issues] most of the time play out in the public eye, [with] people popping off in the press. As long as that kind of anarchy exists we'll never move forward. It's easy for people to use the UCI as a sort of whipping boy … To me there is total lack of solidarity or unity when it comes to the athlete and the team. Whether it's entry to races, or race radios, there will still be issues.

"You can never come to a consensus, which is fine. But some of it should be dealt with behind closed doors - among the teams, among the riders who [must] come to a solution that should be the approach they move forward with. But it's not. People walk out of these meetings and immediately … start popping off [to the media].”

Ironically, his team manager Johan Bruyneel is one of those who has been debating the race radio issue in the media, disagreeing with the UCI over its plans to ban the method of communication used in races.

Armstrong says that he will remain involved in the sport in terms of participation, but at a far less intense level than before. “Being close to 40, those days are done," he says, referring to the racing career which has brought him seven Tour victories, one world championship and a great wealth. "Cycling has been great to me. [But] from now on, I ride for fun. I ride for pleasure. I ride for fitness.

“I plan on keeping the ties I have, whether it's the local bike shop, [my] development team or multisport stuff that include bikes - triathlon or mountain bike - or charity rides I enjoy. That will be my connection.”

Regrets Pegasus Sports turmoil:

Armstrong’s interview also dealt with a matter of the Pegasus Sports team, which was recently denied a Pro Continental licence and saw a number of big riders look for contracts elsewhere. RadioShack signed two of those, namely past Tour de France stage winners Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter.

“The headline there for me is that it's a shame that it came to that,” he said. “The two Robbies were able to find a place to work, to find a place to race, but there are dozens of people there that are not going to get a ride - whether it's riders, mechanics, soigneurs [kit men] or directors.

“'That is an awful shame - right in the middle of the holiday season and something like this goes down? It shouldn't work that way. I don't know the ins and outs of the true details of what happened, but that part upsets me.''

He said that the team might well have signed other riders with longer-term prospects had the RadioShack squad not been heading into its final year of backing.

“It would be nice to have these development projects, but right now we need win some races a soon as we can [to secure new sponsorship],” he stated.


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