'Competitive' Armstrong considers comeback

Retired life is nice, but Lance Armstrong says he’s thinking about making a comeback.

Recently engaged to rocker girlfriend Sheryl Crow, Armstrong issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that he’s contemplating a return to competitive cycling.

“While I’m absolutely enjoying my time as a retired athlete with Sheryl and the kids, the recent smear campaign out of France has awoken my competitive side,” Armstrong said. “I’m not willing to put a percentage on the chances, but I will no longer rule it out.”

Armstrong, who will turn 34 this month, retired in July after winning his seventh consecutive Tour de France and declared: “I’m finished.”

He said he wanted to spend a few days “with a beer, having a blast” with time dedicated to playing with his three children.

But he’s also spent the past two weeks angrily denying reports by the French newspaper L’Equipe that said tests showed he used a performance-enhancing blood booster in the 1999 tour.

Armstrong first hinted of a comeback in an interview on Monday with the Austin American-Statesman. An Armstrong spokesperson on Tuesday said the comments were a joke, but within hours, the cyclist confirmed it was possible.

“I’m thinking it’s the best way” to anger the French, he told the newspaper.
“I’m exercising every day.”

L’Equipe reported on August 23 that tests showed Armstrong used the banned blood booster EPO during the 1999 tour. He has strongly denied the drug allegations.

Armstrong’s comments seemed to surprise officials with his Discovery Channel team.

“That to me sounds very Lance-like. It leaves things open and the motivation seems pretty clear. He is immensely proud of his reputation,” team manager Dan Osipow said.

Osipow said the team will soon evaluate its roster for the 2006 season.

“He owns part of the team. If there’s a certain rider from Texas who wants to join the team, we’ll have space,” Osipow said.

“Lance was pretty definitive when he announced his plans for retirement. But circumstances change. Who knows?” Osipow added. “I leave that to him. We all know he planned on staying fit.”—Sapa-AP

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