ESPN Blogs
  • Cycling

Armstrong handed Tour de France return by former footballer

ESPN staff
March 15, 2015
Lance Armstrong on the Oprah Winfrey show after his doping programme was revealed © Getty Images

After years in the wilderness, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has finally been handed an opportunity to get back on the bike and ride on the Tour de France route once more - thanks to former England footballer Geoff Thomas.

Thomas, who captained Crystal Palace and won nine caps, has recruited the notorious drugs cheat to take part in a charity ride in aid of Cure Leukaemia.

Geoff Thomas played nine times for England © PA Photos

Thomas travelled to Texas in an attempt to convince Armstrong. Both men have overcome cancer and the former midfielder said the battle to beat the illness was more important than Armstrong's systemic cheating, which has been described as the most professional doping regime which has ever been seen.

"A lot of people felt conned, I was disappointed," Thomas said when asked if the scandal affected his decision to get Armstrong on board. "But even then my mind was divided. As a sportsman I was angry that it was all a lie. Doping is wrong.

"But in the context of the illness, and the connection I had as someone who had also survived cancer, the sport was kind of irrelevant. All that ever really mattered to me was his attitude towards the disease - the desire to fight it and the desire to make a difference when he got better.

"He gets accused of using Livestrong to protect himself but he set it up two years before he'd even won the Tour. Before things turned really dark in his life.

"He has made his mistakes and now he's paying the price. But none of that actually concerns me. This isn't about cycling or doping or the UCI. This is about cancer and saving lives."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd