Tour-winner Laurent Fignon reveals cancer battle

Tour de France hero starts chemotherapy treatment

by Tom Henry   June 12, 2009  

road.cc news

Twice-winner of the Tour de France Laurent Fignon has been diagnosed with advanced intestinal cancer.

The 48-year-old Frenchman, who won the event in 1983 and 1984, told a television interviewer that although his cancer had metastasized, treatment had begun once the diagnosis was confirmed.

“We know for certain it’s in the pancreas and we don’t know the rest,” he said in the interview, which will be broadcast in France on Sunday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I am optimistic. I am going to fight and I am sure I can win the battle.”

“I am undergoing chemotherapy already and have been for 15 days. I did the second session a few days ago. Things are going pretty well, I feel good. Everything is going well.”

During the interview to publicise a forthcoming memoir, Fignon was asked if his use of performance-enhancing drugs – the use of which he reveals in his book – might be responsible for his current illness.

"I will not say it did not play a role,” he said. “I just don’t know. At this point, it’s impossible to say yes or no. According to my doctors, apparently not. I discussed my personal history quite frankly and they said that would be too simple an explanation.

"Digestive cancer is primarily a disease of nutrition. The products I took were intramuscular, they didn't pass through the stomach. So, no, if all the cyclists who doped would later have cancer, then everyone would have cancer. Whether those who lived through 1998, when a lot of extreme things happened, will get cancer after 10 or 20 years, I really can't say.”

Fignon famously came second to Greg Lemond in the 1989 Tour by a margin of just eight seconds.

2 user comments

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I think the press forget they are talking to humans with normal human emotions sometimes!

To ask a man who has just been diagnosed with advanced cancer if he thinks that it was self inflicted, in some sort of I told you so line of questions seems pretty harsh to me.

Still, he appears to have taken it well, in the way you would expect a sporting hero to do.

I really hope all works out well for Mr. Fignon.

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [649 posts]
12th June 2009 - 8:50

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The interview was done by Agence France Presse so Fignon is probably a hero to the interviewer too, who if he is someone that covers AFP's cycling beat, probably knows him pretty well.

We don't know the way in which the question was asked nor whether Fignon and the journalist discussed the questions beforehand, the interview was to publicise his new book so they may well have +the sort of situation that Fignon now faces tends to make people fairly frank about things, and he has been upfront about what he did back in the 80s.

It was a fair question to ask there are worries about riders' long term health, the long history of doping in cycling has sadly meant that a lot of riders paid for glory with a shortened life. In Lauren Fignon's case it seems that he has just been awfully unlucky, but you don't get to be a multiple Tour winner without have exceptional reserves of courage and the ability to keep fighting - hopefully they will serve him well now too.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4152 posts]
12th June 2009 - 10:33

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