Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Town to burn shamed Armstrong 'guy'

The effigy of Lance Armstrong will be burnt in Edenbridge, Kent, on Saturday night

A 30ft effigy of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong wearing a Jim'll Fix It badge will be burned at a town's annual bonfire celebrations this weekend.

A steel-framed model of the 41-year-old American, who was recently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping offences, will go up in flames in Edenbridge, Kent.

The effigy has Armstrong holding a sign saying "For sale, racing bike, no longer required" and with a Jim'll Fix It badge round his neck in reference to late TV presenter Jimmy Savile being suspected of widespread child abuse.

The figure will be stuffed with oil-soaked newspapers, packed with fireworks and torched in front of thousands of people on Saturday night.

Bonfire Society members said it was not easy to choose Armstrong, who had all his results from August 1998 removed on the recommendation of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and banned from cycling for life.

Society co-ordinator Charles Laver said Savile and hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza were ruled out, as was Chancellor George Osborne for being "a bit boring".

Mr Laver said: "We had a shortlist which included Jimmy Savile but it was decided it would not be nice to use him as a lot of children attend the bonfire and they might start asking their parents questions.

"Then we had George Osborne but he hasn't really got a face that everyone knows and he's just a chap in a suit. We felt he would be a bit boring. We started to do Abu Hamza but then we decided we weren't entirely happy to do him, so Lance Armstrong came out of the woodwork. He's better because he's brighter... We're very pleased with it."

Bookmaker William Hill had Armstrong listed as the favourite to be the effigy at 15/8, followed by Mr Osborne at 4/1, followed by footballers John Terry (6/1), Luis Suarez (10/1) and Ashley Cole (12/1).

Spokesman Mark Young said: "Lance Armstrong is certainly the biggest villain in sport, with fans across the globe feeling cheated by a man who was thought to be whiter than white."

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