Authorities pan invite of Armstrong to Tour of Flanders

BRUSSELS — Authorities in Belgium have criticized an invitation to disgraced former cyclist Lance Armstrong as a special guest at next year's Tour of Flanders cycling classic.

Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles, but the American was stripped of all of them because of doping. Organizers said Thursday that he will be a keynote speaker at an event entitled the "Tour of Flanders Business Academy presents sports heroes."

Regional Sports Minister Philippe Muyters called it "a totally wrong signal" to aspiring riders and the cycling world at large.

Professor Peter Van Eenoo of Ghent University, a leading anti-doping expert, said the invitation was "totally uncalled for," adding "this from an organization which gets public subsidies."

The Tour of Flanders is one of the best-known one-day classics in the world, combining long stretches of cobblestones with a dozen steep hills. Armstrong never won the race.

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