|Lance Armstrong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Armstrong will race again, but it’ll be as a swimmer, not as a cyclist
Lance Armstrong is back racing, but this time he’ll be competing against middle-aged swimmers.
Armstrong, who was stripped of his biggest cycling achievements last year because of doping charges, will compete at the Masters South Central Zone Swimming Championships this weekend. The meet will be hosted by Longhorn Aquatics at the Jamail Texas Swim Center.
U.S. Masters Swimming isn’t under the drug-testing umbrella of the U.S. Anti Doping Agency, which gave Armstrong a lifetime ban from competition and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles last August. Armstrong confessed to using drugs and performance-enhancing methods in January during an interview with television personality Oprah Winfrey, but he declined to cooperate with USADA’s investigation.
When he confessed to Winfrey, Armstrong expressed his desire to race again. If he had cooperated with USADA, there was a chance his lifetime ban could have been whittled to eight years. By then, he’d be almost 50.
In masters swimming, he’ll be racing against those his own age.
Rob Butcher, the executive director of masters swimming, told the American-Statesman that no one has filed a grievance objecting to Armstrong competing in the organization’s races.
“The purpose of our organization is to encourage adults to swim,” Butcher said.
The organization has members from age 18 to 104. Masters swimming does not drug-test its competitors. There is a code of conduct the swimmers must follow, but it pertains to behavior within the sport.
Armstrong, 41, has entered the meet’s three longest races — the 500-, 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyles. He’s seeded second in the 1,000 freestyle and third in both the 500 and 1,650. The top seed in the 1,650 — swimming’s mile — is 50-year-old Bobby Patten, whose qualifying time of 17 minutes, 45 seconds is 15 seconds faster than Armstrong’s.