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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Other Sport

Armstrong effigy to be set afire in English town
AFP
London, November 01, 2012
First Published: 11:30 IST(1/11/2012)
Last Updated: 12:50 IST(1/11/2012)
Lance Armstrong has given up fighting charges from the United States Anti-Doping Agency that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his unprecedented cycling career, a decision that could put his string of seven Tour de France titles in jeopardy. (AP Photo)

Stripped of his cycling medals over a doping scandal, disgraced US icon Lance Armstrong will suffer a fresh humiliation this weekend at the hands of an English town which will burn him in effigy.

The 30-foot (nine-metre) steel-framed figure, dressed in a Tour de France leader's yellow jersey, will be torched on Friday during the annual Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night celebrations in Edenbridge in Kent, southeast England.

The effigy has been stuffed with oil-soaked newspapers and fireworks and holds a sign reading: "For Sale -- Racing Bike. No longer required."

Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France wins after a damning US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report concluded that he was at the heart of the most sophisticated doping programme in the history of sport.

The Armstrong effigy also sports a badge around its neck saying "Jim Fixed It For Me", a reference to the late British television presenter Jimmy Savile, who has been accused of widespread child sex abuse.

Edenbridge Bonfire Society said Savile had been another potential candidate to be burned in effigy this year, along with British finance minister George Osborne and the hook-handed radical Islamic preacher Abu Hamza. Hamza was extradited to the USA last month to face terror charges.

"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," said society co-ordinator Charles Laver.

Osborne was viewed as "a bit boring", so Armstrong won out, Laver said, adding: "He's better because he's brighter. We're very pleased with it."

Revellers across Britain celebrate with bonfires and fireworks on or around November 5 to mark a failed 1605 plot to blow up parliament and kill king James I. Traditionally they burn an effigy, which for centuries represented Catholic rebel Guy Fawkes, the leader of the so-called Gunpowder Plot.

Other celebrities who have previously made it onto Edenbridge's bonfire are footballers Mario Balotelli and Wayne Rooney, former French president Jacques Chirac and ex-British prime minister Tony Blair plus Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.


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