Lance Armstrong who has recently taken up racing in Ironman triathlons finished his first race in second position.
The former professional bike racer’s strong finish in his first half Ironman comes only a few days after he was cleared in a U.S. investigation into possible doping by him and his previous U.S. Postal teammates.
Armstrong finished a mere thirty-one seconds behind the winner, New Zealander and Olympic silver medalist Bevan Docherty in the Panama Half Ironman on February 13 for a time of three hours, 50 minutes and 44 seconds, reported Stuff.co.nz.
Several news outlets made a big deal about Armstrong “snubbing” the New Zealander based on the observation that the former Tour de France winner walked by Docherty at the race finish without shaking his hand or smiling. It was Armstrong’s first Ironman and major competition since he hung up his bicycle. It was Docherty’s second such competition.
Not sure about you guys, but right after finishing my first Half Ironman consisting of 55 miles of cycling, 1.9 miles of swimming and 16.5 miles of running, I think my first priority would be taking care of myself, not the winner.
Armstrong later retweeted a Bevan Docherty tweet that read,
“Geez if I read 1 more news article on @lancearmstrong “Snubbing” me I’ll go nuts! Stop tryin to make something out of nothing. I’m over it.”
Armstrong apparently geared up for the Panama race to restart his racing career in at least the triathlon form for now.
“I need a challenge in my life,” said Armstrong after the event. “I need some stuff to do. I like to train. I like to suffer a bit and today was little over the top, but it’s great to be back.”
The race attracted a pro field including defending Ironman Texas champion Chris Lieto, Denmark’s Rasmus Henning and Richie Cunningham among the big names, according to the New Zealand report.
Armstrong started his competitive sports career doing triathlons and at the age of 40, he still has a number of years before he has to give up significant competition because many established triathletes are in their forties.
The seven-time Tour de France winner also recently won a victory with the U.S. Attorney’s Office when they dropped an investigation of the professional cyclist’s possible use of drugs during his racing days, primarily while he was a part of the U.S. Postal Team, as first reported by the Associated Press.
“I am gratified to learn that the US Attorney’s Office is closing its investigation. It is the right decision and I commend them for reaching it,” Armstrong said in a statement through his spokesman.
“I look forward to continuing my life as a father, a competitor, and an advocate in the fight against cancer without this distraction,” he said.
In a brief written statement U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said that his office was “closing an investigation into members and associates of a bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong.”
Jeff Novitsky led the investigation that was a joint effort with special agents in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Service – Office of the Inspector General. The investigation was based partly on hearsay statements made by previous riders such as Floyd Landis who made several highly inflammatory and public statements about Armstrong, and several others such as Betsey Andreu, Frankie Andreu’s wife, who testified that Armstrong made statements to his oncologist about taking banned substances.
But investigators were also looking for a connection between the Postal Team’s contractual agreements that stated they would not take anything to boost their performance, including EPO, and the possibility that they did take performance enhancers, which would allow the U.S. Attorney’s office to charge the Postal Team members with fraud.
But in the end, investigators may have dropped the case for one simple reason: they had no evidence. No blood, no urine, in effect, no gun with which to charge Amstrong who never was found to have definitively taken banned substances.