Lance Armstrong may have not yet indicated his interest (or lack of) in racing Challenge Roth, but it remains an option for the seven-time Tour de France champion. That was after the announcement over the weekend that he would not be eligible for any Ironman races until cleared by USADA (read about the WTC response here).
He had scheduled his iron-distance debut for Ironman France in Nice on Sunday, June 24, but that plan has been derailed due to an investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that was announced on Wednesday, June 13. A World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) rule that states “an athlete is ineligible to compete during an open investigation” keeps Armstrong from racing in Ironman-branded events. WTC reportedly considered overturning that rule in order to allow Armstrong to race in Nice, but ultimately decided it would not be appropriate to change the rule for one athlete in the middle of the season.
That doesn’t mean that Armstrong is left with no options. The timing, location and popularity of Challenge Roth make it a viable second choice for Armstrong. Most importantly, the rules and regulations of the race would allow him to make the start if the investigation by the USADA is still pending.
“Our professional athletes have an agreement with Challenge Roth where it is said that if there is a ban from NADA or WADA or the German Triathlon Federation then the athlete is forbidden to race at Challenge Roth,” Felix Walchshöfer, CEO of Challenge Roth, told Triathlete.com. “However, if an athlete is under investigation he/she can still race as this is also the rule of NADA and the German Triathlon Federation under which Challenge Roth is run. If any athlete tests positive after competing in Challenge Roth, that athlete will be stripped of his/her title and prize money and banned from further racing.”
Challenge Roth is an iron-distance event made up of the standard 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. The race is best known for being one of the fastest courses at the distance, with world records being broken there several times. The current world records for fastest iron-distance finish time were established at the 2011 Challenge Roth triathlon. Great Britain’s Chrissie Wellington won the race, and broke the world record for the third time going 8:18:13. Germany’s Andreas Raelert posted a time of 7:41:33 to take the overall world record. The race is also popular among age groupers and sold out in less than 24 hours.