Road Cycling

Lance Armstrong to Compete in Climbing at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The disgraced cyclist posted his intentions to return to top level sport on Instagram

Lance Armstrong is set to make a shock return to the height of competitive sport after announcing on Instagram that he will be competing for Hungary, the birthplace of his mother’s father, at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The American-born Armstrong was banned from all sanctioned Olympic sports for life in 2012 after famously being found guilty of doping offences; a revelation that also saw him stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles won between 1999 and 2005.

After a successful appeal against the ban in 2017 though, the sanctions against Armstrong were eased so that the only sports he was directly prohibited from competing in were those on two-wheels – road cycling, track cycling and mountain biking – and while many would have assumed this would be enough to keep the notorious cyclist out of the world’s most famous sporting competition, it seems the man himself had other ideas.

Lance Armstrong used Instagram to make his shock announcement – Screedgrab: Instagram

The notoriously competitive Texan, who lives between his home state and the climbing-mecca of Colorado, has competed in numerous triathlons in the past few years, and was clearly still in good shape even while banned from sporting competition.

Those who follow him on Instagram and Twitter will know that he’s no stranger to climbing either – having posted numerous times about his love for the sport and training progress with Hungarian-Chinese trainer Do Ping.

Climbing is one of the several sports, alongside skateboarding and surfing, making its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games, though it would have been hoping to make headlines for the action on the day rather than the controversy that Armstrong will no doubt bring to the sport.

Nevertheless, the International Director of the Olympic Climbing Committee, Rolland Rock, has playfully defended the decision, saying: “don’t worry. The only thing Lance Armstrong will be high on at the 2020 Olympics is the crack he’s told he’ll be climbing.”

Armstrong says he’s taking climbing very seriously, insisting he’s not just in it for the craic

Armstrong’s choice to represent Hungary rather than Team USA, who are understood to have rejected his involvement, is also likely to get people talking.

The Olympic Committee of Hungary were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after American-born skier Elizabeth Swaney gained attention around the world for her “trick-less” efforts in the half pipe in Hungarian colours.

The Hungarian authorities had said after that incident, which caused widespread embarrassment: “We, the Hungarian Olympic Committee, have to learn the lessons from this case, and we must consider rethinking our nomination procedures,” so it will be interesting to see how they justify welcoming pantomime villain Lance Armstrong into their squad.

“The only thing Lance Armstrong will be high on at the 2020 Olympics is the crack he’s told he’ll be climbing”

Medal favourite Bo Uldering, from Utah in the USA, does not appear to be overly concerned by Armstrong’s gate-crashing, however.

“He might be Armstrong by name but I think the Olympics will prove that he should be called Weakstrong,” Bo said, before correcting himself.

“Wait. I mean Armsweak. Don’t quote me on that bit. Please. I said it because it’ll show that he has weak arms. Because his arms will get tired while he’s climbing, and mine won’t, because I’m a better and more experienced climber than he is. It was a joke. Do you get it?”

Whatever the eventual outcome, we’re sure there will now be a lot more people tuning in to watch the climbing in Tokyo in 2020.

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