ELLICOTT CITY, Md. ‚?? Lance Armstrong is banned from events that follow World Anti-Doping Agency regulations, but the cycling star, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles this summer, is still a huge name and can attract attention and money for a cause.
Armstrong on Sunday participated in the Revolution3 Half-Full Triathlon, which raises money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Competing with about 50 other cancer survivors, he completed a 0.9 mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run in 4 hours, 16 minutes, 32 seconds.
More than 1,000 overall competitors took part in the event, but 300 signed up after Armstrong announced in mid-September he would participate. That added tens of thousands of dollars to the fund's coffers, leading to a total intake of about $100,000.
"It's certainly been a boost in growing the event, and the purpose of the event is to raise awareness and raise money for the fund," said Brock Yetso, CEO of the Ulman Cancer Fund. "We had sponsors that contacted us, that wanted to get on board.
"The intangibles that it did? We had 50 survivors that got to race side by side with arguably the most visible and vocal young adult survivor out there and someone they looked up to during their treatment. It's an amazing element that you add to an event that's about cancer awareness and philanthropy."
Yetso said Armstrong made a $100,000 donation to the Ulman Fund five years ago.
But because of the sanctions against Armstrong, levied when he decided not to fight U.S.Anti-Doping Agency doping charges, the portion of the event that Armstrong participated in could not be sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport's governing body.
"We are strong supporters and believers in the USAT, but we were able to work collaboratively with them to figure out a solution where they could still sanction the Olympic (40-mile event) and we could still provide a safe and fair race in the half (triathlon) without a sanction," Yetso said. "We approached USAT because we've been a sanctioned race. And we said, 'Lance is interested, and we want to welcome him. Can you guide us through this process?' They came back to us and said:'Let's figure out a way to work this out.'
"There are two distinct races that are separated. They started at different times. One is sanctioned and one is not."
Only two participants backed out after Armstrong announced he'd compete and his race was no longer sanctioned by USAT.
Armstrong did not make himself available to the media after the event but did address the crowd. He was greeted at the finish by Jessica Protasio, a cancer survivor and liver transplant recipient, who was supported by the Ulman Fund when going through treatment and is now an a volunteer with the organization.
"If I hadn't survived over the past 16 years, I wouldn't have been here today," Armstrong told the crowd. "That's the most important thing. Sixteen years is great, but I've got to make it another 50. So fingers crossed and knock on wood."
As he left the course, Armstrong briefly paused and talked to a few fans, some of whom urged him to return to the event next year.
In the meantime, USADA's decision against Armstrong can be appealed by the International Cycling Union once the agency forwards its case to the union. The evidence is to be forwarded by Oct. 15, at which point the cycling union could decide on an appeal even though Armstrong did not go to arbitration.
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