By Shane Stokes
Lance Armstrong's return to competitive cycling will guarantee many varied responses within the sport. Few would have predicted the Texan to come back over three years after he retired, and the big question is how successful he can be at 37 years of age?
"There's nothing to stop him coming back – there is no administrative, legal or sporting issue to stop him," Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "From the UCI's point of view, he's free to race. He can come back but the question is if he can return to the same level; maybe he doesn't know that himself, maybe he just wants to see what he can do.
"He's been a superb athlete, both in coming back from cancer and in winning seven Tours."
Armstrong has said that he will compete in a completely transparent manner, undergoing regular anti-doping tests and releasing the results for scrutiny. McQuaid thinks this is a good idea. "He'll probably never shut up the no-gooders but it might give him the opportunity to prove he can do it clean."
The news only became official on Tuesday but McQuaid said that the planning had been going on before that. "His management contacted the UCI three or four months ago to request that he be put into the [testing] system. He's already been on it a couple of months so if he starts racing in February, he'll be in the system for the required six months.
"We really believe that the biological passport system is the way forward and if he came into that system and did the same [winning the Tour], it would show he is an incredible athlete."
McQuaid added that there was no point in looking back at past seasons, and wondering if performances were clean or not. "We have to move forward," he said.