Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor, made a whistle-stop visit to South Africa on Tuesday and Wednesday and revealed in interviews with local media that his work as an anti-cancer activist is keeping him as busy as training for the Tour de France - and will almost certainly keep him out of US politics.
Armstrong was in South Africa as a guest of Adcock Ingram to launch its Unite 4 Health health-care programme. "This, the fight against cancer and pushing health care, is my new Tour de France," the Cape Argus reports Armstrong said in an interview broadcast to over 8000 people in South African cinemas.
"It's my new race, a longer, harder race. If I can help people to improve their health and perhaps inspire them in some way to overcome their illness, then I'm doing well in that race. I'm supposed to be retired at 34 and be doing nothing, but I've been working harder than ever. I was in Los Angeles the day before, London on Tuesday, then I'm going back to a dinner in London, then there's more speeches and dinners back home. I keep myself busy."
Too busy for politics, despite his well-publicised friendship with US President George Bush. "If I go into politics, that means I lose 50 percent of the people whose support I need for the campaign against cancer," said Armstrong. "It just doesn't make sense for me to go into politics - I want the support of both political parties so that we can help people who are suffering from cancer."
Armstrong added that he and President Bush did not talk politics while riding together, and that he didn't necessarily support everything Bush stood for. "I've known him since he was Governor of Texas," said Armstrong. "He loves cycling, and so do I. When we go cycling together, we aren't talking about Iraq or anything like that - we are talking about cycling and bikes."
And while Armstrong is still involved with the Discovery Channel team, of which he is part owner, he again said he will not be pulling on Discovery Channel strip for this year's Tour, or any other race.
"That's final," he said. "I won't race, but I will watch it. I love the race. I think that Jan Ullrich will win it. He looks fit. I still ride every day, but I'm finished racing."