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Geoff Thomas: Time to leave Lance Armstrong alone

Image: Lance Armstrong: Stripped of seven Tour de France titles

Lance Armstrong should be left alone to take "a first step towards redemption" on next month's charity ride, according to Geoff Thomas.

Former England footballer Thomas has invited Armstrong to take part in two stages of the ride, which aims to raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia and will cover the Tour de France route 24 hours ahead of the main event.

The decision to include the disgraced rider - stripped of his seven Tour titles after admitting drug use - has been called "disrespectful" by International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson.

But Thomas, like Armstrong a former cancer sufferer, says the American's own charitable work should not be forgotten.

"The question is how long do you want to keep kicking him and stop him living his life?" he said. "He has paid his price and in the future he'll have to pay more, financially as well.

"Hopefully the sport has moved on but the hypocrisy in sport at the moment, not just in cycling, is getting out of hand and it's time we started looking at it in the clear light of day, start to move on and recognise there are problems all over the place.

"I don't condone what he did. I look at the man as a cancer survivor who has raised $500m for his charity and that's what he wants to do in the future.

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"If I can offer him a first step towards his road to redemption and he raises millions in the future I can't see that doing any harm."

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