Two-time Tour de France champion Laurent Fignon has confirmed that he has been diagnosed with advanced intestinal cancer.
“My cancer is an advanced cancer because it has metastasized,” the 48-year-old Fignon said in an interview to be broadcast on French television on Sunday. “We know for certain it’s in the pancreas and we don’t know the rest. 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.”
Fignon said he began treatment as soon as the diagnosis was confirmed.
“I am undergoing chemotherapy already and have been for 15 days,” he said. “I did the second session a few days ago. Things are going pretty well, I feel good. Right now, I don’t know more than you. Everything is going well.”
Fignon won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984 and holds the distinction of having lost the Tour by the narrowest margin in history, when he finished second to American Greg LeMond, losing the three-week race by just eight seconds. Fignon also won the 1989 Giro d’Italia and Milan-San Remo in both 1988 and 1989.
The retired winner of the Tour in 1983 and 1984, answered frankly when the interviewer on the “7 a 8” program asked if there might have been a connection between his past doping practices and this 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 honestly and they said that would be too simple an explanation.”
Fignon recorded the interview to publicize his forthcoming book, “We were young and unconcerned.”
“Digestive cancer is primarily a disease of nutrition. The (doping) 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.”
The 1989 Tour de France was one of the most exciting Tours I have ever seen, even 20 years later … I sincerely hope that le Professeur wins this particular race.