The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has raised concerns that Lance Armstrong's official presence at next week's Colorado Classic race to record a daily podcast could violate the Texan's lifetime ban for doping and threaten the sanctioning of the event.
The race announced that Armstrong's podcast would "help us connect with that serious cycling audience." However, the news lead to complaints about Armstrong's presence and forced officials to scrutinise the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code concerning a banned athlete's Ineligibility, especially the rule concerning the participation "in any capacity in a Competition or activity".
The UCI anti-doping rules state that the term "activity" also includes administrative activities, such as serving as an official, director, officer, employee, or volunteer of the organisation.
Armstrong was given a lifetime ban for doping during his career and was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories. He began his Stages podcast during the Tour de France and it quickly attracted a significant following and gave the disgraced Texan a voice in the sport.
Armstrong produced his Tour de France podcast from Texas and in Aspen without being accredited as media at the Tour de France. However his presence and official links to the Colorado Classic, even as part of the media, sparked question about his lifetime ban from the sport.
USADA addressed the matter in a short statement late on Friday.
"Under the WADA Code, an ineligible individual may not have an official role in relation to a sanctioned event such as the Colorado Classic. USADA has received complaints about this and after reviewing the matter has advised the Colorado Classic on the applicable rules," a USADA spokesperson told Cyclingnews.
This has reportedly forced the event organisers to reevaluate Armstrong's links to the race, but no final decision on Armstrong's presence has been decided.
"We have been informed of rules that could limit broadcast of the 'Stages' podcast from the upcoming Colorado Classic," race spokesperson Curtis Hubbard told the Denver Post newspaper in a statement. "We are seeking additional guidance and will make a decision on how to proceed after further consultation with USADA and producers of the podcast."
The spokesperson explained that the race has engaged in a "media partnership" with Armstrong that includes covering specific expenses related to the podcast but had no input with regard to its contents.
The Denver Post reported that Armstrong declined to comment.
His social media posts indicate he is currently at his home in Aspen, Colorado. The Colorado Classic and Velorama Colorado Festival begins on August 10 in Colorado Springs, with four days of racing and evening concerts linked to the race.
In 2014, Armstrong tried and failed to participate in a Gran Fondo event hosted by friend and former teammate George Hincapie. He was stopped from riding because the event, while not being a race, was sanctioned by USA Cycling.