AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong is pulling out of the pool.
U.S. Masters Swimming Executive Director Rob Butcher said Thursday that Armstrong will not swim three distance events in the Masters South Central Zone Swimming Championships at the University of Texas this weekend after swimming’s international federation body raised objections.
“He doesn’t want to cause any more harm to any more organizations,” Butcher told The Associated Press. “His interest was around fitness and training. In light of FINA and the other political stuff, he will not be swimming.” Although Butcher said Armstrong withdrew from the event, he likely didn’t have a choice after FINA raised objections to his participation. An Armstrong spokesman did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. The U.S Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from sanctioned competition for life for his use of performance-enhancing drugs during a cycling career that included seven Tour de France titles. Butcher had said Wednesday that Armstrong, who is a U.S. Masters Swimming member, would be allowed to compete in his 40-44 age group because the master’s event did not fall under USADA drug testing rules. But FINA sent a letter to U.S. Masters Swimming officials, saying that because U.S. Masters Swimming is under its umbrella as a sanctioning body, it must recognize the World Anti-Doping Code and bar Armstrong from competition. “We’re expecting them to apply the rules,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told the AP. Armstrong had to register for the Austin event by March 31. According to the meet event sheets, Armstrong had the second-best qualifying time in the 1,000 freestyle and No. 3 in the 1,650- and 500 freestyle events. Armstrong, 41, had been pursuing a post-cycling career in triathlons before he was banned by USADA. He denied doping for years until USADA issued a massive report in 2012 detailing drug use by Armstrong and his teams. In January, Armstrong admitted during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used steroids, blood boosters and other banned performance-enhancing drugs and methods during his career. Armstrong also was removed from the board of the Livestrong cancer foundation he formed in 1997 after being diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.