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Verbruggen: Simeoni stopping Armstrong riding Giro

'The' incident

'The' incident (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

UCI president Hein Verbruggen has said that Lance Armstrong is not riding this year's Giro d'Italia because of the dispute between him and Filippo Simeoni. In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Verbruggen said, "Without the Simeoni affair, [Armstrong] certainly would have come to the Giro, he had promised me."

Verbruggen added that Armstrong's actions during the 18th stage of the 2004 Tour de France, where he followed Simeoni up to a breakaway and effectively killed the Italian's chances of getting clear, "did not deserve a penalty." A judicial investigation was opened in Italy after the incident, trying to determine whether Armstrong had threatened Simeoni, and whether he could be charged with sporting fraud, violence and intimidation of a witness. Thus, Armstrong could be questioned by police if he sets foot in Italy.

Armstrong and Simeoni are involved in another legal battle arising from Simeoni's testimony in the Dr. Ferrari trial, where Simeoni claimed that Dr. Ferrari had instructed him on taking doping products. Armstrong called Simeoni a "liar" after this, and Simeoni is now suing Armstrong for libel.