The UCI has decided to approve Armstrong's request to ride the Tour Down Under in January. The race runs between 20 and 25 January and marks the first event of the UCI's pro tour calender.
UCI rules require that a retired rider who wishes to return to competition submit to doping controls for six months before he lines up for his first race. The UCI has decided to waive the rule, passed in 2004, in Armstrong's case. According to the press release, the existing rule reflects an out-dated view of anti-doping practices. The UCI claims that its new monitoring programs make the six month wait unnecessary. Rather than applying the rule strictly, the UCI argues that they can achieve the same, if not a better, result by carrying out the biological passport program thoroughly. Pierre Bordry of the AFLD might disagree. Bordry has questioned the UCI's screening process in light of the abnormal blood levels detected in some samples from the Tour de France.
In any case, the UCI assures us that Armstrong will be closely monitored and it sees no need to conform to the out-dated rulebook. The Tour Down Under organizers will no doubt be thrilled with the decision.