Jean-Etienne Amaury, the new president of the Amaury Sport Organization who replaced Patrice Clerc, indicated that the fight against doping would remain a top priority for the Tour de France, with or without Lance Armstrong competing.
"The Tour de France's position has always been very strict and that will not change in the years to come," he said. Amaury had previously indicated that he is aware of how doping had harmed the credibility of cycling,
Referring to Armstrong, Amaury told L'Equipe, "We can't say that he has not embarrassed the Tour de France, as he has had a quite a complicated history with it."
Amaury did not think Armstrong's planned participation in the Tour de France in 2009 would cause the race to fall under suspicion. "Today's tools in the fight against doping are different."
"The last time I checked I won the tour seven straight years and was never once found to be guilty of doping despite seven years of intense scrutiny," said Armstrong in response through his spokesperson Mark Higgins. "Not to mention that my team of 25 riders over those seven years was also never found to be positive. We won clean and fair. Also, according to industry standards, TV ratings, worldwide media impressions, spectators along the route, and global sponsorships were at an all time high. Where's the embarrassment in that?"
Armstrong then reiterated his objective is to "bring about global awareness" of cancer and the ongoing fight against it. "Nobody ever said that I need the Tour de France in order to try and achieve this," said Armstrong. "It comes down to an issue of distraction, while I love the event and France's people, I cannot accept this sort of grandstanding which distracts from the Livestrong message that is urgently needed, and being sought out, in many other places around the world."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback
January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel