At an extraordinary meeting held Friday night of World Triathlon Corporation's board of directors, the decision was made to leave in place the anti-doping policy as written at the beginning of the current athlete contract season.
Lance is out of Ironman racing.
All professional triathletes agree to this policy as a condition of competition in Ironman races. Per the policy, at the moment a doping investigation is commenced, that athlete is no longer allowed to compete in Ironman races, and his participation will be prohibited until the investigation is closed.
Because USADA announced earlier this week it intends to investigate whether Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career, he will not be allowed to compete in any Ironman events during the course of the investigation.
This does not mean Armstrong is banned from triathlons, rather that he's limited to racing in triathlons not owned by World Triathlon Corporation. This means the great majority of the world's triathlons are available to him. But it keeps him from racing the triathlon event dearest to his heart: The mythic Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon World Championship.
What is not known is whether this ban will extend to certain other races that are not WTC-owned, but which exist under a WTC series umbrella, such as the HyVee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa, in which Armstrong is schedule to compete in September.
There was disagreement inside the WTC about which direction to take: whether to abandon the current anti-doping policy in favor of one more in line with most other federation sports; or to keep in place the current, more hard line policy, which errs on the side of a more drug-free sport, but at the expense of generally accepted due process, and an accused athlete's presumption of innocence. As of Thursday night, it looked as if WTC was set to change its doping policy. An announcement was scheduled for Friday, and to all appearances it looked as if that announcement was that Armstrong was back in. But a second faction inside WTC weighed in and, in the end, won out.
There are other options for Armstrong in the world of triathlon. One popular rival to the Ironman brand is the "Challenge" series of triathlons, headlined by a major even in the southeast of Germany called Challenge Roth. Armstrong competed in several off-road triathlons last year, including that format's World Championship, in which he was in the lead for a time during the race.
The smart money says that he will do what he's usually done since his retirement from professional cycling: enter the races that sound to him like fun. This is how he characterized the difference between cycling and triathlon here on Slowtwitch just last October:
"Coming back to the Tour was a lot of pressure. Even if I tried to ignore it, it was there in spades. That inevitably leads to having less fun. And I came back to a sport that had become bitter and toxic in a sense. Everyone pointing fingers and trying to cover their rears all at the same time. It was a total free-for-all, and the cycling media—if we can call them media—just fed on the fuel. I'm glad it's behind me.
"Coming back to tri, even sporadically, has been fun. It's what I feel like doing for now, so we'll see how it goes. And honestly, the best part for me is the training and the sense of satisfaction I get from that."
The past three days have been no fun for Armstrong. One thing is likely: While the training is primary to him—as it is for all confirmed multisporters—he will not stop racing. Whether he strikes a big money deal with a race organizer, or a no-money deal, the prime imperative when choosing his race schedule this summer will be fun, not business.