Anti-doping agency clears Armstrong for Tour de France

Lance Armstrong was cleared Friday to ride in this year’s Tour de France, health permitting, after the French anti-doping agency confirmed it would not be launching disciplinary procedures against the seven-time champion.

The agency opted not to take any action against the 37-year-old American in connection with an incident in the French Riviera town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer on March 17. Although Armstrong is recovering from breaking his collarbone in March, he has indicated he hopes to be ready for the Tour de France in July. The incident occurred when Armstrong returned from a training ride to find a doping official at his French home. Armstrong asked that the official’s credentials be confirmed by the International Cycling Union, the sport’s world governing body, and while this was going on he was given permission by the official to take a shower. “We asked the official to wait outside while we checked to see if he was legitimate,” Armstrong said. The anti-doping agency confirmed in a written statement that it had determined no rules had been broken by Armstrong. His urine and blood samples both proved clean, it said. “The [agency] has decided to take into account the written explanations of the sportsman and, consequently, not to open disciplinary proceedings regarding its opposition to these facts,” the statement said. “The analysis of Lance Armstrong’s urinary and blood tests did not reveal any anomaly. An analysis of a sample of his hair was not carried out.” Armstrong wrote Friday on his Twitter site that he was delighted with the news. “Just got the word from the French agency … . Case closed, no penalty, all samples clean. Onward.”

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Armstrong is now free to compete in all French races. He has undergone 24 drug tests since ending his retirement in September, and indicated he has become increasingly annoyed with the French anti-doping agency. “I know that my comeback wasn’t welcomed by a lot of people in France,” Armstrong said in a video message as he awaited the agency’s judgment. Armstrong underwent surgery after breaking his collarbone in a race in Spain last month. He is about to start an intensive training program in Aspen, Colorado, in the hope of making it to the start line for the Giro d’Italia, which begins May 9.