Second Edition News for January 16, 1997

Lance Armstrong contemplates his future

Last year, Lance Armstrong won the Tour DuPont for the second time, won a World Cup race and finished second in another, started the Tour de France and rode in the Olympics.

This year, as he struggles against cancer, he would be happy to ride in a race, any race.

``I have no idea when I will race again,'' Armstrong said, although he has been cycling since making the announcement that he has cancer.

He hopes to be back to competition by the middle of the cycling season.

``I am ready to return, but it depends on what the doctor says and how training goes,'' Armstrong said.

Last October, just before the world championships, he announced he has testicular cancer. At the time, he had started undergoing chemotherapy to fight the disease that spread to his stomach and lungs. He also underwent surgery to remove two small brain lesions.

A month ago, he stopped chemotherapy and said the hormone markers in the blood had gone down from a high of 90,000 to 3. An individual without cancer has zero.

Still, Armstrong reacted quickly when asked how he feels in his battle against the disease.

``Oh, I'm scared,'' he said. ``It's scary. When I go to the doctor as soon as I get the results, I feel better. The longer I get away from that period, I get more and more worried and I have to talk to the doctor again.

``There is a sense of relief when he tells me everything is going well.''

Armstrong was in Paris at the presentation of his new cycling team, the French squad Cofidis, which signed him as their leader, reportedly for more than a million dollars a year.

His contract has been renegotiated, with a smaller salary and a number of performance bonuses, based on when he returns to cycling.

``I lost a lot of conditioning. I lost muscle and put on some fat. I have to start working on my strength,'' Armstrong said.

``On the bike, I never had to suffer like I still do now and like I did in the last few weeks. I tried to ride through the whole chemotherapy, I would have to go so slow and it would hurt so bad,'' Armstrong said. ``I suffer in the climbs.''

``Relative to what I would do before, it was a big difference.''

He did a lot before.

He won the world road championship in 1993, one of the youngest riders to take the title then at 21. That year he also won a stage in the Tour de France, again one of the youngest to do that.

He also won an emotional stage after his teammate Fabio Casartelli died in a crash in the Pyrenees in July 1995.

Now Armstrong must face his chances for the future.

``At the end of the last treatment (of chemotherapy), based upon what they saw, I asked if I were 50-50 before, what am I now,'' Armstrong said. ``They said 80-20.''

Italian doping commission summons sports doctors

A judicial body set up by the Italian Olympic committee (CONI) to probe allegations of doping on Tuesday summoned two sports doctors, one of whom has been carrying out research for the IOC, to appear before it.

The body, set up late last year as an autonomous entity headed by lawyer Ugo Longo, called on professor Francesco Conconi and doctor Ilario Casoni to answer questions at a date to be arranged between the parties.

There is no question of either doctor being involved in any crime. In Italy it is not illegal to sell or administer substances, such as anabolic steroids, banned in sports.

However, sports tribunals can suspend trainers and doctors from involvement in sporting activities.

``I would like to stress that a summons is not an act to be interpreted as a condemnation,'' Longo told reporters. ``It is merely a request to collaborate.''

The two men had been summoned to appear at CONI's headquarters in Rome last Friday, but neither turned up, citing various reasons in letters to the body.

Conconi is a controversial figure in Italy, but his Ferrara laboratory is working for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to develop a new urine test for erythropoietin (EPO) which stimulates the production of red blood cells which transport oxygen around the body.

Casoni, a doctor linked to Italian Nordic skiing, has been accused by skier Silvano Barco of blood doping in 1988.

The commission said that Barco's allegations needed further investigation.

Announcing its findings so far, the commission closed its enquiries into professional cyclist Roberto Menegotti, amateur cyclist Ellis Rastelli and third division soccer player Cristiano Gagliarducci of Frosinone.

Menegotti failed a dope test in the 1996 Giro di Puglia, Rastelli won the amateur Tour of Tuscany but did not turn up for a test and Gagliarducci tested positive for caffeine. All three cases were handed over to a second CONI committee.

Gagliarducci has already been suspended for 36 days.

Johan Museeuw has a knee operation

On Tuesday, Johan Museeuw has an operation on his right knee. The Belgian worldchampion cannot train for two weeks. Museeuw fell on December 21 during a MTB tour in Belgium and cut his knee which became inflamed. The Doctor in Sint Ursula in Herk-de-Stad closed the wound up in a surgical operation. The 31 year-old racer hopes to be hospital for a day.

Rominger and Fondriest must consider Cofidis

Cofidis will aim for the Top 5 in world racing in the first year. The new French team set it aims while outlining the routines for the Swiss Tony Rominger and the Italian Maurizio Fondriest. The third top man, the American Lance Armstrong, who is getting over his chemotherapy for testicular cancer is still not sure of his competitive future.

On Tuesday, Cofidis presented the team for the coming season. The team of Cyrille Guimard has 21 riders. Guimard was out a year because he could not find a sponsor last year.

Cofidis, the French telephone credit group, will use Rominger in the stage races and Fondriest in the one day competitions.

The riders are: Rominger (Swi), Maurizio Fondriest (Ita), Lance Armstrong (USA), Frankie Andreu (USA), Bobby Julich (USA), Kevin Livingstone (USA), Christophe Capelle (Fra), Laurent Desbiens (Fra), Philippe Gaumont (Fra), Stephane Goubert (Fra), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), Yvan Martin (Fra), Bruno Thibout (Fra), David Moncoutim (Fra), Francis Moreau (Fra), Christophe Rinero (Fra), Cyril Saugrain (Fra), Arnaud Tournant (Fra), David Millar (GBr), David Plaza (Spa) and Jim van de Laer (Bel).

TVM sign Russian Talent

Less than two days before the official presentation of his team in Hoogeven, Cees Priem has signed the Russian Sergei Ivanov. The manager of the TVM team has signed the talented rider for two years with an option of another year.

The number of riders for this year is nu 21 with the arrival of Ivanov, one less than last year.

Since the end of September, Priem has been trying to get the East European for his team. During the Tour de l'Avenir an accord with the rider was signed. But Ivanov's team, Lada blocked the transfer because Priem would not pay the high transfer fee.

Also ONCE and Banesto were in the market for the rider. There was also talk that Ivanov would make a French/Russian team up. Priem said that Ivanov was a great signing for his team. "Many teams were after him. He is an all rounder. He can go: up hills, sprint and time-trial" said Priem on Tuesday enthusiastic over his new signing.

Last season Ivanov won ten times, with two sprint stages and a mountain stage in the Tour de l'Avenir and three stages in the Circuit des Mines. In 1996, he achieved 378 UCI-CP-punten, a number that the best of Dutch riders did not achieve.