Tour of California organizers on Wednesday said Lance Armstrong is not a confirmed starter for this year’s race.
During a conference call with reporters to announce the race’s new anti-doping plan, race officials were asked if a rider under federal investigation would be allowed to start, and whether Armstrong was registered yet.
“We have no commitment from him, we have no commitment from RadioShack and the last we heard was that he didn’t know,” said Andrew Messick, president of event owner AEG Sports. “RadioShack owes us, within the next few days, their full and provisional roster and we’ll see who is on it,” he said.
Race and anti-doping officials said they would follow World Anti-Doping Agency rules that allow all eligible athletes to compete even if they are under doping investigation.
“Until an athlete through our process has been shown and proven to have committed and anti-doping rule violation, they are free to compete, whether pending indictment, whether pending investigation, whether some blogger thinks they cheated, that doesn’t get it,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of U.S. Anti-doping Agency, which will be testing athletes prior to and at the race this year.
“There is an important principle of due process that is absolutely required from USADA’s perspective prior to an athlete being removed from the playing field.”
Messick said Armstrong’s appearance would bring more media attention to the race, but that his absence would not harm it.
“I don’t think (if he doesn’t race) hurts the race at all; we are going to have a fantastic field of athletes. I believe Lance Armstrong brings a lot of attention to the sport; he has many many people who believe in him passionately and I think having him as part of the race would ensure that a lot of the media would follow the race and there is something to that,” he said.
Messick also confirmed that the race organizers do not pay Armstrong or any other racer an appearance fee. “We don’t pay him to show up. We don’t and haven’t paid appearance fees for athletes,” he said.