News shorts: Lance Armstrong actor doped for role, sparks real-life outrage

Lance Armstrong in 2009

Lance Armstrong in 2009 (Image credit: Tim de Waele/

Actor dopes for Armstrong role

Actor Ben Foster, who portrays Lance Armstrong in the upcoming feature film The Program, sparked real-life outrage when he admitted to doping in order to prepare for the role of the sport's most infamous cheater.

In an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie premiered, Foster admitted to taking unspecified doping substances under the supervision of a doctor. "The more that I researched, the more that I explored in this subject, the more I wanted to know. It's such a complex story, it's such a complex world," Foster said.

Armstrong admitted to doping throughout his Tour de France reign in early 2013, after he had been banned for life by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

"Doping is not the reason why Lance Armstrong won but it did shape a culture at the time, and it certainly shaped him, and I wanted to understand — on a personal level, on a cellular level — what that experience is like," Foster said.

The news sparked angry reaction from Emma O'Reilly, the former soigneur for Armstrong's team who was one of the first to come forward to journalist David Walsh with evidence that Armstrong was doping.

"Really? Is someone having a laugh. My life was made a living hell for years to clean up a sport I love and now it's OK for Ben Foster to dope so he can be like Lance Armstrong? That's not just ironic, it's disrespectful," O'Reilly wrote on Twitter.

Foster has a history of taking extreme lengths to understand the roles he plays, and taking drugs for The Program was 'a calculated risk', he said. "What I came away with is that drugs work — they work. You can just keep going. Coming off those drugs is the difficult part. That's where your health concerns will come in. And it took a while for me to right myself. But that was a calculated risk and part of the joy of the job, I suppose."

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Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong

No Van der Poel in CrossVegas

World cyclo-cross champion Mathieu van der Poel will not travel to the USA for the first World Cup in Las Vegas. The Dutch rider is still suffering the effects of a crash at the Tour de l'Avenir three weeks ago.

"My right knee, which I fell on heavily, has healed. The problem now is in my left knee, which I apparently overloaded in my desire to be competitive again as quickly as possible," Van der Poel said.

The BKCP-Corendon rider had an MRI on Thursday that showed inflammation in the joint. "There is nothing else to do other than take inflammatories, ice and rest. Today is my fifth day off the bike," he said, adding that he has only just been given the green light to start light training tomorrow.

He regretted the missed opportunity to put the world champion's jersey on display on another continent, but said he needed to rebuild toward the 'cross season. He aims to resume racing at the Grand Prix Neerpelt on September 26, but if he is not ready then he will make his debut at the opening Superprestige round in Gieten on October 4.

No-shows for Worlds

The travel to the United States has reportedly proved too costly for some nations, who have opted to send either teams smaller than the allocations which they earned, or no team at all to the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond.

Ireland announced its team today, only filling two of its three allocated places for the elite men's road race. According to, Algeria earned six spots for the elite men's road race, but will only field Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka). Turkey earned three spots but will not send a team, as did Morocco. Iran earned six places but will not send a single rider.

Korea, Croatia, and Estonia will also fill only two of their three spots.

Meanwhile, Sweden, Finland, Mexico, Rwanda, and Hong Kong were among the nations with cycling talent that did not earn places in the elite men's road race, and Latvia, with more than one WorldTour rider, has just one spot.

The UCI rules do not provide for countries to opt out of their earned spots and have their places redistributed to lower-ranked nations.

Consonni signs with Lampre-Merida

Lampre-Merida today announced the signing of neo-pro Simone Consonni, 21. The Italian sprinter who won the La Côte Picarde Nations Cup this year will join fellow neo-pros Simone Petilli and Edward Ravasi for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

We’re intensifying the attention towards the young talents, trying to grant them a step-by-step entry in the pro world," manager Brent Copeland said. "Consonni is very fast, he’s reactive, he’s one of the most interesting Italian cyclists for the future."

UCI mourns former vice president Laurent De Backer

The UCI remembered its former vice president Laurent De Backer today. The Belgian died on September 11 at age 79.

"Following in the footsteps of his father, himself a former Director of the RLVB, Mr De Backer was a great advocate for our sport, in Belgium and internationally, for many years," the UCI press release noted. "He was UCI Vice-President from 2001 to 2005, member of the UCI Management Committee from 1992 to 2001, and member of the Professional Cycling Council from 1993 to 1997. In addition, he was President of Belgium’s National Federation from1997 to 2010."

UCI President Brian Cookson said: “Laurent de Backer was dedicated to our sport and we are saddened by his loss. On behalf of the entire cycling family, I extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

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