Lance Armstrong’s doping past got him kicked out of the pool.
Armstrong was forced to withdraw on Thursday from the Masters South Central Zone Championships this weekend after swimming’s international federation raised objections to his participation.
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) banned Armstrong from sanctioned competition for life for his use of performance-enhancing drugs during a cycling career that included seven Tour de France titles.
US Masters Swimming executive director Rob Butcher had said on Wednesday that Armstrong, who is a US Masters Swimming member, would be allowed to compete in his 40 to 44 age group because the event did not fall under USADA drug testing rules, but FINA, swimming’s international federation, sent a letter to US Masters Swimming officials, saying that because US Masters Swimming is under its umbrella as a sanctioning body, it must recognize the World Anti-Doping Code and bar Armstrong from competition.
Armstrong spokesman Mark Higgins said Armstrong contacted US Masters Swimming weeks ago about racing. Armstrong, 41, was among the top qualifiers in the 40 to 44 age group in the 500 yard, 1,000 yard and 1,650 yard freestyle events.
“As of [Wednesday] evening, we were told he was welcome,” Higgins said in an e-mail. “That position changed and we were told he could not compete, so Lance will not be swimming.”
US Masters Swimming does not drug test. Before FINA stepped in, Butcher had said Armstrong could compete because the organization was trying to promote its mission of encouraging adults to swim.
“His interest was around fitness and training. In light of FINA and the other political stuff, he will not be swimming,” Butcher said.
FINA sent its letter after media reports surfaced on Wednesday that Armstrong would compete.
“We’re expecting them to apply the rules,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said.
A USADA spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.
Armstrong won the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005 and denied doping for years, until the USADA issued a massive report last year detailing drug use by Armstrong and his US Postal Service teams.
In January, Armstrong said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used steroids, blood boosters and other banned performance-enhancing drugs during his career. Armstrong was also removed from the board of the Livestrong cancer foundation he formed in 1997 after being diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.