Armstrong Lives Strong for Kazakhstan?

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 7:50 AM CDT
Lance Armstrong rides in the pack during the 10th stage of the Tour de France cycling race, July 14, 2009.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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(Newser) – Lance Armstrong’s return to cycling is great and all, but it’s a bit of a buzzkill to see him wearing the blue-and-yellow Astana Cycling Team shirt, writes David Roth of The New Republic. Armstrong’s basically made himself a rolling advertisement for the oppressive government of Kazakhstan, and in the process hooked up with one of the least reputable outfits in cycling.

“Astana freakin’ takes the cake,” says one cycling insider. “It’s the weirdest, skankiest team in cycling history.” It was kicked out of the Tour de France in 2007 over positive blood doping tests, and banned in 2008. Armstrong’s longtime manager Johan Bruyneel largely cleaned house after that, but Astana’s reputation hasn’t recovered. Armstrong came to reunite with Bruyneel, but doesn’t seem thrilled about it—he once referred to it as “team Borat.”