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Lance Armstrong drops out of swimming event

Austin (USA), Apr 5, 2013, (AP): 11:41 IST
Lance Armstrong's doping past got him kicked out of the pool. Armstrong was forced to withdraw yesterday from the Masters South Central Zone Championships this weekend after swimming's international federation raised objections to his participation.

The U.S Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from sanctioned competition for life for his use of performance-enhancing drugs during a cycling career that included seven Tour de France titles.

U.S. Masters Swimming executive director Rob Butcher had said Wednesday that Armstrong, who is a U.S. Masters Swimming member, would be allowed to compete in his 40-44 age group because the event did not fall under USADA drug testing rules.

But FINA, swimming's international federation, sent a letter to U.S. Masters Swimming officials, saying that because U.S. Masters Swimming is under its umbrella as a sanctioning body, it must recognize the World Anti-Doping Code and bar Armstrong from competition.

Armstrong spokesman Mark Higgins said Armstrong contacted U.S Masters Swimming weeks ago about racing.

Armstrong, 41, was among the top qualifiers in the 40-44 age group in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650-yard freestyle events.

"As of (Wednesday) evening, we were told he was welcome," Higgins said in an email to The Associated Press.

"That position changed and we were told he could not compete, so Lance will not be swimming."

U.S. Masters Swimming does not drug test. Before FINA stepped in, Butcher had said Armstrong could compete because the organization was trying to promote its mission of encouraging adults to swim.

"His interest was around fitness and training. In light of FINA and the other political stuff, he will not be swimming," Butcher told The Associated Press.
FINA sent its letter after media reports surfaced Wednesday that Armstrong would compete.

"We're expecting them to apply the rules," FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told the AP. A USADA spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

Armstrong won the Tour de France from 1999-2005 and denied doping for years until USADA issued a massive report in 2012 detailing drug use by Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service teams.

In January, Armstrong said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used steroids, blood boosters and other banned performance-enhancing drugs and methods during his career.

Armstrong also was removed from the board of the Livestrong cancer foundation he formed in 1997 after being diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.

Armstrong had been pursuing a post-cycling career in triathlons before he was banned by USADA.

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