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Tour de France hero starts chemotherapy treatment

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.