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Armstrong says last few weeks 'difficult'

By Jim Vertuno

AP Sports Writer

LAST UPDATED: 06:37 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas >> Lance Armstrong greeted about 4,300 cyclists at his Livestrong charity's fund raising bike ride, then retreated into privacy as cycling officials get set to announce if they will appeal his lifetime ban and loss of seven Tour de France titles ordered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Armstrong spoke briefly at the sunrise start of Sunday's ride in Austin.

Armstrong said he's faced a "difficult" few weeks, but did not otherwise mention USADA's recent report showing evidence of performance-enhancing drug use by Armstrong and his teams.

The International Cycling Union has said it will announce Monday whether it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Armstrong denies doping. He stepped down as chairman of Livestrong on Wednesday, and many of his personal sponsors dropped their contracts with him.

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