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Scharping criticises UCI's special handling of Armstrong

It was "a mistake" for the International Cycling Union (UCI) to give Lance Armstrong an exception to its drug-testing rules, said Rudolf Scharping, head of the German Cycling Federation.

According to UCI rules, a rider must be enrolled in the anti-doping programme for six months before his first race, and Armstrong would have been eligible to ride as of February 1, 2009. However, the UCI bent its own regulation for the seven-times Tour de France winner and will allow him to start in the Tour Down Under as of January 20.

"In these times, everyone should strictly obey the rules," Scharping told the dpa press agency. He also said that he had problems with the return of the 'older generation' riders, such as Armstrong or Alexander Vinokourov. "Even if 're-socialisation' after paying a penalty applies in all walks of life: must it really have to apply in cycling?"