Lance Armstrong withdrew from a masters swimming event after the sport’s world governing body FINA moved to block his participation.
The disgraced cyclist, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban after admitting doping throughout his career, had been scheduled to compete in three events at the Masters South Central Zone Swimming Championships in Texas this past weekend.
Armstrong was due to compete in freestyle races over 500 yards, 1,000 yards and 1,650 yards at the event held in his hometown of Austin, Texas, but pulled out after FINA wrote to United States Masters Swimming (USMS) objecting to him taking part and warning that they would be breaking the rules.
Armstrong is banned for life from all competitions that adhere to either the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) or World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) codes.
The low-profile masters event fell outside those restrictions, it had been claimed by USMS executive director Rob Butcher.
Butcher also claimed he had not received any objections to Armstrong competing.
But FINA contacted USMS claiming that, as it falls under its umbrella, then rule 15.1, which clearly states that athletes convicted of doping offences are not allowed to take part in sanctioned competitions, applies.
“Therefore, FINA wrote a letter to the U.S. Masters Swimming (with copy to U.S. Aquatic Sports and USA Swimming) requesting not to accept the entry of Mr. Lance Armstrong in the above mentioned competition,” FINA said in a statement.
Armstrong had originally hoped to compete in triathlon events, the sport where he had started his career, before that was blocked because of his lifetime doping ban.
He appeared to have found an avenue in which to channel his competitive instincts in the pool after his entry for the USMS event was accepted.
Butcher had claimed that they had debated whether or not to allow Armstrong to compete but had decided to do so because “our purpose is encouraging adults to swim.”
Butcher insisted that Armstrong had taken the decision himself to withdraw from the event after news of FINA’s objections became public.
“He doesn’t want to cause any more harm to any more organisations,” Butcher said. “His interest was around fitness and training. In light of FINA and the other political stuff, he will not be swimming.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.