Lance Armstrong’s chance to participate in the Tour of California in May is secured thanks to an anti-doping rule change.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will take over testing from the International Cycling Union (UCI) for the first time in the stage race’s history. The Tour of California organiser yesterday announced the change as a means to toughen pre-race and targeted testing.

Teams must submit a list of 12 riders that will be used to select their eventual eight-man teams. The USADA will be able to test those riders starting February 15. The stage race, now in its sixth year, runs May 15 to 22.

Lance Armstrong will be part of RadioShack’s 12-man list, his legal spokesman Mark Fabiani told the Los Angeles Times.

“You are not locked in to predetermined tests, which have historically been of some concern,” USADA executive director Travis Tygart told the Los Angeles Times.

“We are going to review data that we receive from the testing and also incorporate the scientific intelligence to do further target testing to the extent it’s necessary.”

The change, three months before the race begins, ensures Armstrong’s participation. As part of USADA’s rules, cyclists who are under investigation for doping, but have not received a suspension are allowed to participate.

The Tour of California in the past used the UCI rule to prohibit cyclists from starting its race. Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla and Santiago Botero were unable to start in 2008 due to their involvement in the Operación Puerto investigation.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened a grand jury investigation into allegations made by Armstrong’s former team-mate Floyd Landis. Landis alleged in April last year that Armstrong doped during his seven Tour de France victories. The FDA has already heard testimony from several of Armstrong’s former team-mates and associates.

“Every athlete,” Tygart added, “is entitled to full and due process before being removed from the playing field.”

Armstrong completed his last international race two weeks ago at the Tour Down Under in Australia. He faced questions about the FDA investigation and a Sports Illustrated article detailing doping claims against him.

He said he was unsure what he would do after the race. It is believed, though, that Armstrong will participate the Tour of California in May and his last race, Colorado’s new stage race in August.

“I don’t know yet,” he said of his next races and goals. “Still thinking about that.”

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  • adam

    TDU changed their rules to allow him to ride two years ago too…..

    He’s a huge star and has done a lot for cycling in many repsects (coverage, visability etc). Sadly credibility is no longer one of those things.

    For any sportsperson to become bigger than the sport is a shame. Doubley so since the governing bodies could stop it in its tracks. Look at football; the whinging, the cheating, the intimidating. This could all be stopped so easily if the governing body stepped in at the right time with the right measures. Sadly, they never do.

  • Sir Lancealot

    When will this nasty little man finally do one? I can understand why the ToC organisers would want him racing, despite my antipathy towards the man he is, for reasons unknown, a huge draw.

    Surely he shouldn’t be racing?

    On the other hand, the international press corps may get another opportunity to gang up on poor old lancey boy and make him snap again a la Australia….Dude.

  • PeterLB

    Ha ha, hilarious. More like USADA have taken over the anti-doping so Armstrong can ride.

    Don’t those people realise how ridiculous they look? Could it be any more obvious.

    Idiots

  • Matthew

    Doping Rules and Regulations for Lance Edward Armstrong:
    1. There are no rules.

  • Ken Evans

    “Teams must submit a list of 12 riders
    that will be used to select their eventual eight-man teams.
    The USADA will be able to test those riders starting February 15.”

    USADA in America,
    most riders in EUROPE !

    Go figure !!

  • stu pid

    The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will then if Lance gets found guilty change the rules that any rider named lance are allowed to race in the USA while banned?…no?

  • barry davies

    Lance will be waiting to see how much money they offer him, seeing he got $2m for the TDU.