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Armstrong dropped by Cofidis

October 10, 1997 GMT

PARIS (AP) - Former world champion Lance Armstrong of the United States was dropped by his Cofidis cycling team Friday after negotiations broke down, the French team said.

The Cofidis team, based in Lille, France, had originally signed the American for the 1997 season before Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer.

Armstrong, 26, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last October. He has been taking chemotherapy on and off for the past 12 months.

Armstrong signed a contract with Cofidis in 1996 worth a reported $2 million over two years. It was renegotiated after his diagnosis and he did not race at all in 1997 although getting a salary throughout his illness.

Cofidis issued a statement Friday that it will not sign Armstrong for next year.

Cofidis said Armstrong and his agent, Bill Stapleton, were trying to renegotiate a contract to one based on performances in 1998.

Cofidis said that Armstrong has regained his energy in recent weeks and wanted to race again.

The French team said it was surprised to learn that Armstrong was about to sign with another team although negotiations were continuing with Cofidis, even saying that a verbal agreement was reached and a press conference was scheduled early in October.

Cofidis added that it wishes Armstrong ``good luck and good health even if the counselor of the Texan racer could not play fair towards a partner who always supported him more as a friend than a sponsor.″

Armstrong was a rising star in cycling. He was the 1993 world road champion, a two-time Tour de France stage winner and two-time Tour DuPont champ.

Armstrong was one of the world’s best in one-day road races, and was beginning to blossom in the more grueling stage races, with his victories in the Tour DuPont. He was being groomed to challenge for the Tour de France in the next two to three years.