15 June 2009

Cycling champion has cancer

Two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon has advanced cancer in the digestive system and is undergoing chemotherapy, the former cyclist announced.

Two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon has advanced cancer in the digestive system and is undergoing chemotherapy, the former cyclist announced.

"Two months ago, I was diagnosed with cancer of the digestive tract," Fignon said in an interview broadcast with Europe-1 radio on Thursday. "I started chemotherapy two weeks ago. It's going well." Fignon added that he will undergo more tests after the Tour de France.

French newspaper Le Parisien also quotes him as saying that the cancer is advanced.

Not caused by performance enhancing drugs
Fignon said doctors told him the cancer was unlikely to have been caused by the performance enhancing products he took during his career.

Fignon has written a book, "We were Young and Carefree," in which he describes his use of amphetamines and cortisone. "I don't know whether or not that played a role," Fignon said.

"I don't know at all. It's impossible to say, yes or no. According to the doctors, apparently not." The 48-year-old Frenchman won the Tour in 1983 and 1984 and several other prestigious cycling races during his career.

Fignon said that all cyclists of his generation used similar drugs, an accusation that drew criticism from other former French riders.

"It's too easy today to imagine that it's because it's a cyclist that it's necessarily because he doped that he is sick," Laurent Jalabert, a former top French cyclist, told RTL radio on Friday.

Bernard Hinault, a five-time Tour de France winner, also was critical of Fignon's allegations of widespread doping in cycling.

Armstrong wishes him well
"Just because he (Fignon) did it does not mean that the others did it. It's always the same thing. That has to stop," Hinault told the same station.

Despite their differences with Fignon's opinion, Hinault and Jalabert both offered their support for his struggle with cancer.

So did Lance Armstrong. The cancer survivor and seven-time Tour champion sent his best wishes to Fignon in a Twitter post, calling the Frenchman "a friend, a great man, and a cycling legend." -(Sapa, June 2009).


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