Responding to media reports from earlier on Saturday, Eddy Merckx denied later the same day that he had had intestinal cancer several years ago.
"I've never in my life had bowel cancer," Merckx said to reporters and family members while in Doha according to the AFP. Merckx arrived in Qatar for the Ladies Tour of Qatar and is still there for the men's version, which begins Sunday.
The Sud Presse had reported that Merckx had had cancer, but had recovered and was now in good health, only having to watch his diet somewhat as an aftereffect.
Merckx gave other media sources such as Le Soir and Het Nieuwsblad a similar rebuttal to the reports of a history of cancer. "[I had] stomach problems a few years ago, which are recurring in my family, but there was never any question of cancer," he said.
Merckx, who retired in 1978, won five Tours de France, five Giros d'Italia and one Vuelta a España. He also has three World Championship titles and several dozen victories in Classics such as the Milan-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and other races. He set the hour world record in 1972 after completing 49.431 km. The record was not broken by another rider on a a "traditional" bike for 28 years.