The International Cycling Union (UCI) has given Lance Armstrong permission to start the Tour Down Under in January, although Armstrong missed the deadline for enrolling in the organization’s anti-doping program by ten days.

“This decision has been made after a careful assessment of the situation, taking into account both the applicable regulations and the imperatives of the fight against doping which is the UCI’s number one priority,” read a statement from the UCI released Wednesday morning.

“The UCI can confirm that Lance Armstrong has and will be the subject of very strict monitoring throughout the period running up to his return to the peloton,” the release continued.

The decision by the UCI will not face opposition from the World Anti-Doping Agency, either. Director general David Howman, the agency’s chief legal counsel, said that WADA rules would not bar Armstrong’s return, no matter what the time gap.

“The present World Anti-Doping Code does not mandate the position relating to athletes coming back from retirement, except those who are serving a sanction,” Howman said in an email to VeloNews.

Howman noted that Article 5.3 of the revised World Anti-Doping Code, which takes effect on January 1, 2009, deals with the issue of non-suspended athletes returning from retirement, but leaves the question to the respective sports’ governing bodies to decide.

Each anti-doping organization shall establish a rule addressing eligibility requirements for athletes who are not ineligible and retire from sport while included in a registered testing pool and then seek to return to active participation in sport.
“The decision from UCI in relation to Lance Armstrong and the waiver of its six-month rule to allow him to compete early is therefore one made under the UCI rules and not subject to review by WADA,” Howman added. “It should accordingly be viewed in the light of the circumstances of the anti-doping program prevailing in cycling only.”