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Thursday September 8, 2005

Lance Armstrong considers Tour de France comeback


WASHINGTON: Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, angered by recent doping allegations, is considering coming out of retirement in a bid to win an eighth consecutive edition of cycling's greatest race. 

Armstrong, a father of three who on Monday announced his engagement to rock star Sheryl Crow, confirmed on Tuesday in a statement released through agent Mark Higgins that accusations from the French sports newspaper L'Equipe have him pondering a comeback. 

“While I'm absolutely enjoying my time as a retired athlete with Sheryl and the kids, the recent smear campaign out of France has awoken my competitive side,” Armstrong said. 

“I'm not willing to put a percentage on the chances but I will no longer rule it out.” 

ONE MORE: Lance Armstrong retired after winning this year's Tour de France for a record seventh consecutive time. – AFPpic
Armstrong made it clear that L'Equipe's claims are what might push him to stay on the pedals competitively a bit longer. 

The Texan told his hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, that he has been thinking about a comeback since L'Equipe reported on August 23 that urine samples taken from Armstrong in 1999 during his first Tour triumph tested positive for the banned substance EPO. 

“I'm thinking it's the best way to piss (the French) off,” Armstrong told the newspaper. 

Asked how serious he was about another Tour, Armstrong replied: “I'm exercising every day.” 

Armstrong retired in July after winning his seventh straight Tour de France but expectations of relaxing holidays have been tempered by doping allegations. 

Armstrong vehemently denied taking any performance-enhancing drugs although a number of experts and former employees have come out of the woodwork to denounce him. – AFP  

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