For whatever reason, France hates Lance Armstrong. Seriously, they haaaate him. They hate him with a visceral disgust that they usually reserve for the Spanish (we’re just assuming that, like the residents here, Europeans hate anyone who lives across a political border from them). They were even discussing whether to make the day Lance broke his collarbone a national holiday. We’re kidding about that, but it’s plausible.
France’s usual weapon of choice against Armstrong is to hound him with drug tests, 100% of which have come back clean. It doesn’t seem probable that cycling’s demigod can win year after year after experiencing a catastrophic bout with brain cancer, but until they can prove otherwise, he did so cleanly.
But now, as Armstrong announced to his LIVESTRONG.COM site, he expects to be banned from the Tour. He didn’t test positive for anything; his transgression was… taking a shower.
As Armstrong explains, he returned to the house in France where he was staying to prepare for the Tour. A drug testing agent was waiting for him there alone, something Armstrong considered suspicious, since he’d never seen an agent conduct a test by himself. Armstrong and his party checked the man’s credentials by placing some phone calls, then let him in after he proved to be legit. Armstrong took a shower, submitted all the requested samples (blood, urine, hair), and sent the agent on his way. That’s all that happened.
But according to the AFLD (France’s anti-doping agency), that course of action was enough to merit a disciplinary hearing. As you can imagine, they probably won’t pass on an opportunity to bar Armstrong from the Tour de France. Will it just be for one year? Permanently? We’ll have to wait and see.
It’s just a shame that such institutional pettiness would manifest itself in a way that deprives a sport’s premier event from featuring its premier participant.