Lance Armstrong

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Lance Armstrong

Armstrong speaking at the NIH
Personal information
Full name Lance Edward Armstrong
Date of birth September 18, 1971
Country Flag of United States United States
Team information
Current team none (retired)
Professional team(s)
US Postal
Discovery Channel
Major wins
22 stages Tour de France
  • 7x Tour de France
  • 1x Clásica de San Sebastián
  • 1x La Flèche Wallonne
  • 1x World Cycling Champion

Lance Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971 in Plano, Texas) is a retired American professional road racing cyclist. He won the Tour de France, professional cycling's most prestigious race, a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005. In doing so, he beat the previous record of five consecutive wins, held by Miguel Indurain and five non consecutive wins shared by Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil. This feat was accomplished several years after brain and testicular surgery, and extensive chemotherapy in 1996, to treat testicular cancer that had metastasized to his brain and lungs.

In 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him Sportsman of the Year. He was also named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003. Armstrong retired from racing on July 24, 2005, at the end of the 2005 Tour de France.

His athletic success and his dramatic recovery from cancer inspired Armstrong to commemorate his accomplishments in conjunction with Nike through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a charity founded in 1997. The now ubiquitous " Livestrong" yellow rubber wristbands first launched in 2004 netted the Foundation tens of millions of dollars in the fight against cancer and helped Armstrong become a major player in the nonprofit sector.


Early career

Armstrong began his sporting career as a triathlete, competing and winning in adult competitions from the age of 15. In the 1987-1988 Tri-Fed/Texas ("Tri-Fed" was the former name of USA Triathlon), Armstrong was the number 1 ranked triathlete in the 19 & under age group; second place was Chann McRae, who later became a US Postal Service Cycling teammate and the 2002 USPRO National Champion. Armstrong's point total for the 1987 season was better than the five professionals ranked that year. At 16 years old, Armstrong became a professional triathlete and became the national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at age 18 and 19, respectively.

It soon became clear that his greatest talent was as a bicycle racer. After competing as a cycling amateur, winning the US amateur championship in 1991 and finishing 14th in the 1992 Olympics road race, Armstrong turned professional in 1992 .


On October 2, 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three nonseminomas testicular cancer that had metastasized, spreading to his lungs, abdomen, and brain. His doctors told him that he had less than a 50 percent chance of survival. After his recovery, one of his doctors told him that his actual odds of survival had been considerably smaller (one even went as far as to say three percent){{{author}}}, {{{title}}}, [[{{{publisher}}}]], [[{{{date}}}]]., and that he had been given the estimate primarily to give him hope. Three years later; after much recuperation, and the loss of his right testicle, he won the Tour de France.

Tour de France success

Before his illness, Armstrong had already had a number of Tour de France stage wins to his name. In 1993, he won the 8th stage of the Tour, and in 1995, he took stage 18.

In addition to his 7 Tour de France wins, Armstrong has won 22 individual stages, 11 time trials and his team has won the team time trial on 3 occasions.

After being named the 2005 Sportsman of the Year, he said "Cancer and what all can be done there, not just in the world of health care, but if it's education or political, this is a very real issue," Armstrong said. "We're at an interesting time in medical research. That would be a serious rush for me if I could affect a change in time."

Reasons for success

Many have discussed the reasons for Armstrong's success in winning seven Tours in a row. No single factor seems to be responsible, but rather a combination of the following:

Training methodology and preparation

Armstrong has clearly triumphed at least partly because he learned to apply the obsessive focus he developed fighting cancer to making a career of winning the Tour de France, training in Spain for months leading up to the Tour de France and making frequent trips to France to fully analyze and ride key parts of the upcoming Tour de France course.

That he focuses solely on the Tour De France and seldom competes in other major races allows him to train 342 days a year for the 23 days of the Tour, a significantly greater training time than riders who compete in other races.

Chris Carmichael

Armstrong met former elite cyclist Chris Carmichael in 1990 and worked with him as his coach through all of his years at the Tour De France.

Johan Bruyneel

The team's sports director, Belgian ex-cyclist Johan Bruyneel, was involved in all of Armstrong's victories. A master tactician who shared Armstrong's obsession for detailed preparation, Bruyneel's symbiotic relationship with Armstrong makes it difficult for even them to ascertain which one influenced the other how much. Starting with Armstrong talking Bruyneel into becoming their sports director, and Bruyneel convincing Armstrong that he could win the Tour, to their almost constant radio communications during each race, the amount of support these men provided for each other through the seven victories was immeasurable.

Riding style

He has an extremely high aerobic threshold and therefore can maintain a higher cadence (often 120 rpm) in a lower gear than his competitors, most noticeably in the time trials. This style is in direct contrast to previous champions (e.g. Jan Ullrich and Miguel Indurain) who used a high gear and brute strength to win time trials. It is believed that a high cadence results in less fatigue in the leg muscles than a lower cadence requiring more severe leg muscle contractions. Ultimately the cardiovascular system is worked to a greater extent with a high cadence than with a lower, more muscular cadence. Because the leg muscles are taxed less with a high cadence pedaling style, they recover faster and the efforts can be sustained for longer periods of time. Armstrong dedicated a significant portion of his training to developing and maintaining a very efficient high cadence style.

Rare athletic physical attributes

All top cyclists have excellent physical attributes. Armstrong is no exception, although in one way, he may be unusual even for an elite athlete. He is near but not at the top aerobically, having a VO2 Max of 83.8 mL/kg/min — much higher than the average person (40-50) but not as high as that of some other elite cyclists, such as Miguel Indurain (88.0, although reports exist that Indurain tested at 92-94) or Greg LeMond (92.5). His heart is 30 percent larger than average; however, an enlarged heart is a common trait for many other athletes. He has a resting heart rate of 32-34 beats per minute with a max heart rate at 201 bpm. Armstrong's most unusual attribute may be his low lactate levels. During intense training, the levels of most racers range from 12 μL/kg to as much as 20 μL/kg; Armstrong doesn't go above 6 μL/kg. The result is that less lactic acid accumulates in Armstrong's system, therefore it is possible that he feels less fatigue from severe efforts and this may contribute to his ability to sustain the same level of physical effort as other elite racers with less fatigue and faster recovery times. Some theorize that his high pedaling cadence is designed to take advantage of this low lactate level. In contrast, other cyclists — like Jan Ullrich — rely on their anaerobic capacity, pushing a larger gear at a lower rate. Further improvements in Armstrong's physical attributes and performance have been attributed to training induced increases in his muscular efficiency indicating changes in muscle myosin type.

Strength of his team

Some have attributed Armstrong's success in recent years in part to his US Postal Service cycling team (in 2005 the Discovery Channel Team). Throughout his wins in the Tour de France, Lance has slowly built up the strength of his team. In his first few Tour victories, his team was not considered exceptionally strong. Yet it is evident by the wins of his team in the Team Time Trial in his last three Tour de France victories that they are now one of the most dominating teams in the Pro Tour Circuit. While the U.S. Postal Team competes in races worldwide, the riders selected to join Armstrong in the Tour de France are there specifically to help Armstrong win the yellow jersey. However, the decisive moves in which he gains very large leads over the competition almost always involve Armstrong racing far ahead of his team, and Armstrong has often fended off multiple attacks even when his team falters and he is isolated unexpectedly.

Support of broader team

Armstrong also revolutionized the support behind his well-funded teams, asking his sponsors and equipment suppliers to contribute and act as one cohesive part of the team. For example, rather than having the bike frame, handlebars, and tires of a bicycle designed and developed by separate companies miles away from each other, his teams adopted a Formula 1-style relationship with sponsors and suppliers, taking full advantage of the combined resources of several organizations working in close communication. The team comprised of Trek, Nike, AMD, Bontrager (a Trek-owned company), Shimano, and Oakley collaborate for a well-coordinated and technologically cutting edge array of products that produce the fastest Lance Armstrong possible. This is now the standard in the professional cycling industry.

Allegations of drug use

The sport of professional cycling has a particular problem with use of performance enhancing drugs, with prominent individuals and in some cases entire teams being disqualified at one time or another. This has resulted in cycling having a reputation for doping. Against this background, Armstrong has continually denied having used performance-enhancing drugs, and has described himself as "the most tested athlete in the world". Throughout his career only one test showed indications of the presence of doping products: in 1999, a urine sample showed traces of corticosteroids, but the amount was not in the positive test range. He later produced a medical certificate showing he used an approved cream for saddle sores which contained the substance.

Specific allegations

  • In 2004, sports reporters Pierre Ballester and David Walsh jointly published a book alleging Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs ( L. A. Confidentiel - Les secrets de Lance Armstrong). It contains allegations by Armstrong's former masseuse Emma O'Reilly who claimed that Armstrong once asked her to dispose of used syringes and give him makeup to conceal needle marks on his arms. Another key figure in the book, Steve Swart, claims that he and other riders, including Armstrong, began using drugs in 1995 while they were members of the Motorola team, a claim since denied by other team members. Allegations in the book were reprinted in the UK newspaper The Sunday Times in a story by deputy sports editor Alan English in June 2004. Armstrong subsequently sued the newspaper for libel, which settled out of court after a High Court judge in a pretrial ruling stated that the article "meant accusation of guilt and not simply reasonable grounds to suspect." The newspaper's lawyers issued the following statement: "The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance-enhancing drugs and sincerely apologised for any such impression." (See also in The Guardian). Armstrong later dropped similar lawsuits in France.
  • On March 31, 2005, Mike Anderson filed a brief in Travis County District Court in Texas, as part of a legal battle following his termination in November 2004 as an employee of Armstrong. Anderson worked for Armstrong for two years as a personal assistant. In this brief Anderson claims that he discovered a box of Androstenine while cleaning a bathroom in Armstrong's apartment in Girona, Spain. While Androstenine is not on the list of banned drugs, the substances androstenedione and androstenediol are listed. However, Anderson stated in a subsequent deposition that he had no direct knowledge of Armstrong using a banned substance. Armstrong denied the claim and issued a counter-suit. The two men reached an out-of-court settlement in November 2005, the terms of the agreement undisclosed.
  • On August 23, 2005, L'Équipe, a major French daily sports newspaper, reported on its front page under the headline "The Armstrong Lie" that the cyclist had taken EPO during the prologue and five stages of the 1999 Tour de France. This claim was based on an investigation in which they claimed to be able to match samples from the 1999 Tour that were used to hone the EPO test to Armstrong. The world governing body of cycling, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), did not begin using a urine test for EPO until two years later, in 2001. Armstrong immediately replied on his website, saying, "Unfortunately, the witch hunt continues and tomorrow’s article is nothing short of tabloid journalism. The paper even admits in its own article that the science in question here is faulty and that I have no way to defend myself. They state: 'There will therefore be no counter-exam nor regulatory prosecutions, in a strict sense, since defendant’s rights cannot be respected.' I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance enhancing drugs."
  • In June 2006, French newspaper Le Monde reported claims made by Betsy and Frankie Andreu during a deposition that Armstrong had admitted using performance-enhancing drugs to his physician just after brain surgery in 1996. The Andreus' testimony was related to litigation between Armstrong and SCA Promotions, a Texas-based company that was attempting to withhold a $5-million bonus; this was eventually settled out of court with SCA paying Armstrong and Tailwind Sports $7.5 million, to cover the $5-million bonus plus interest and lawyers' fees. Armstrong later issued a statement suggesting that Betsy Andreu may have been confused by possible mention of his post-operative treatment which included steroids and EPO that are routinely taken to counteract wasting and red-blood-cell destroying effects of intensive chemotherapy. The Andreu's allegation was not supported by any of the eight other people present, including Armstrong's doctor Craig Nichols, or his medical history, although according to Greg LeMond (who has been embroiled with his own disputes with Armstrong, see LeMond article), there exists a recorded conversation in which Stephanie McIlvain, Armstrong's contact at Oakley Inc., said to Greg LeMond, "You know, I was in that room. I heard it." .
  • In July 2006, the Los Angeles Times published an in-depth story on the allegations raised in the SCA case. The report cited evidence presented at the trial including the results of the LNDD test and an analysis of these results by an expert witness. From the LA Times article: "The results, Australian researcher Michael Ashenden testified in Dallas, show Armstrong's levels rising and falling, consistent with a series of injections during the Tour. Ashenden, a paid expert retained by SCA Promotions, told arbitrators the results painted a "compelling picture" that the world's most famous cyclist "used EPO in the '99 Tour." Ashenden's finding were disputed by the Vrijman report, which pointed to procedural and privacy issues in dismissing the LNDD test results. The LA Times article also provided in-depth information on the testimony given by Armstrong's former teammate Steven Swart, Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy, and Instant messaging conversation between Andreu and Jonathan Vaughters regarding blood-doping techniques in the peloton. Vaughters later signed a statement disavowing the comments and stating he had: "no personal knowledge that any team in the Tour de France, including Armstrong's Discovery team in 2005, engaged in any prohibited conduct whatsoever." Andreu signed a statement affirming the conversation took place as indicated on the Instant messaging logs submitted to the court. . The SCA trial was decided in favour of Armstrong, and the LA Times reported: "Though no verdict or finding of facts was rendered, Armstrong called the outcome proof that the doping allegations were baseless." The LA Times article provides a comprehensive review of the disputed positive EPO test, allegations and sworn testimony against Armstrong, but notes that: "They are filled with conflicting testimony, hearsay and circumstantial evidence admissible in arbitration hearings but questionable in more formal legal proceedings."
  • In September 2006, Frankie Andreu and another, unnamed teammate were reported to have made recent statements that they used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France. This was the same tour, and the same drug, at issue in the controversy with WADA (see below). While both teammates are reported as saying they never saw Armstrong use EPO, Armstrong at once attacked the article, describing it as a "hatchet job."


In October 2005 UCI appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman to investigate the handling of urine tests by the French national anti-doping laboratory, LNDD. Vrijman was the head of the Dutch anti-doping agency for ten years, since then he has worked as a defense attorney defending high-profile athletes against doping charges. Vrijman's report "cleared" Armstrong due to improper handling and testing and said that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the LNDD may have "behaved in ways that are completely inconsistent with the rules and regulations of international anti-doping control testing," and may also have been against the law. The report said that tests on urine samples were conducted improperly and fell so short of scientific standards that it was "completely irresponsible" to suggest they "constitute evidence of anything." The recommendation of the commission's report was that no disciplinary action whatsoever should be taken against any rider on the basis of the LNDD research. It also called upon the WADA and LNDD to submit themselves to an investigation by an outside independent authority. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) rejected these conclusions and is considering legal action

Family and personal life

Armstrong is the son of Linda Armstrong Kelly. He met his first wife, Kristin Richard (Kik), in June 1997. They were married on May 8, 1998 and had three children: Luke, born in October 1999, and twins Isabelle and Grace, born in November 2001. The couple filed for divorce in September 2003. Kristin Armstrong cited several reasons for the dissolution of their marriage, including her husband's rapid rise to celebrity, his comeback from cancer, and their constant movement between multiple homes in different countries.

Armstrong began dating singer Sheryl Crow some time in the autumn of 2003 and publicly revealed their relationship in January 2004. The couple announced their engagement in September 2005 and their split in February 2006. According to Men's Journal's July 2006 cover story, Armstrong had struggled to grapple with Crow's breast cancer diagnosis on February 20, 2006, but, after talking almost daily for a while, they have again gone separate ways. "I still think about her every day. Primarily now because of her health and hoping that everything works out. And I'm fully confident that it will," he said.

In the November 2006 issue of Details magazine, Armstrong addressed growing rumors that he and actor Matthew McConaughey were involved in a gay relationship. "We all have buds, we all take guy trips, but you take something very normal and put it in a magazine and people start talking," he stated. "It's like, either you sleep with everything that moves or you're gay."

Armstrong owns a house in Austin, Texas as well as a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Neighbors of his ranch property claim that Armstrong inadvertently polluted a local swimming hole when he was creating a dam on his ranch. One neighboring family says the problem has existed for two years and that "you only have so much patience". Armstrong says he is investigating the best way to fix the problem.

NYC Marathon of 2006

After his retirement he continued to stay fit and decided he would try his luck at a marathon. He decided on running the New York marathon. Together with Nike he assembled a pace team consisting of well known runners Alberto Salazar and Joan Benoit Samuelson to help him reach his goal time of 3 hours. He struggled with shin splints and was on pace for a little above 3 hours but pushed through the last 5 miles to come through at 2:59:36, finishing 856th. He commented that the race was extremely difficult, even when compared to competing in the Tour De France. "For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done. I never felt a point where I hit the wall. It was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness." He also helped raise $600,000 for his LiveStrong campaign during this run.

Political possibilities

George W. Bush and Armstrong mountain biking at Prairie Chapel Ranch
George W. Bush and Armstrong mountain biking at Prairie Chapel Ranch

In an interview with the New York Times, teammate George Hincapie hinted at Armstrong possibly running for Governor of Texas after retiring from cycling. In the July 2005 issue of Outside magazine , Armstrong himself hinted at possibly running for Governor, although "not in '06." By Texas political standards, he would almost certainly run as a Democrat, as he has described himself in the past as being "middle to left," "against mixing up State and Church," "not keen on guns," opposed to the Iraq War, and pro-choice. U.S. Senator John Kerry, interviewed on OLN at the 2005 Tour de France, stated Armstrong has the potential to be successful in politics. "I think he'd be awesome, he'd be a force. I just hope it's for the right party," Kerry said on OLN. Armstrong and President George W. Bush, a Republican and fellow Texan, count each other friends. President Bush called Armstrong in France after his 2005 victory to congratulate him and in August 2005 The Times ( Can this bike ride be Bush's tour de force?) reported the President had invited Armstrong to his Prairie Chapel Ranch to go mountain biking.

Armstrong was quoted by The Times in 2004 about his views on Iraq: "I don't like what the war has done to our country, to our economy. My kids will be paying for this war for some time to come. George Bush is a friend of mine and just as I say it to you, I'd say to him, 'Mr President, I'm not sure this war was such a good idea', and the good thing about him is he could take that."

Most recently however, beginning in August 2005, Armstrong has hinted that he has changed his mind about possibly entering politics. In an interview with Charlie Rose, that aired on PBS on August 1st, 2005, Armstrong pointed out that running for Governor would require the type of time commitments that caused him to decide to retire from cycling. Again on August 16, 2005, Armstrong told a local Austin CBS affiliate that he is no longer considering politics. "The biggest problem with politics or running for the governor -- the governor's race here in Austin or in Texas is that it would mimic exactly what I've done: a ton of stress and a ton of time away from my kids. Why would I want to go from pro cycling, which is stressful and a lot of time away, straight into politics?"

Even more recently, Armstrong has begun to clarify that he intends to be involved in politics as an activist for change in cancer policies. In a May 2006 interview with Sports Illustrated, Armstrong is quoted as saying "I need to run for one office, the presidency of the Cancer Fighters' Union of the World." Sports Illustrated also quotes Armstrong as saying that he fears halving his influence with legislators if he chooses one side in American partisan politics. His Foundation is becoming more involved in lobbying on behalf of cancer patients before Congress, and Armstrong himself has said that he hopes to model his efforts in the area of cancer in much the same manner as U2's Bono has done on behalf of poverty, AIDS, and hunger.

Teams and victories


IronKids Triathlon National Champion
Hillcrest Tulsa Triathlon
Athens YMCA Triathlon (Athens, TX) (course record)
River Cities Triathlon (Shreveport, LA) (course record)
Flag of United States United States National Sprint Triathlon Champion
Waco Triathlon (Waco, TX)
Flag of United States United States National Sprint Triathlon Champion
Stonebridge Ranch Triathlon (McKinney, TX)
Flag of United States United States National Amateur Cycling Champion
Settimana Bergamasca (overall and youth classifications)
First Union Grand Prix
GP Sanson
Fitchburg Longsjo Classic (overall, 1 stage win)
Thrift Drug Classic
Vuelta La Ribera (overall, 3 stage wins)
Trittico Premondiale (1 stage win)
World Cycling Championship - World Cycling Champion
USPRO National Road Championships - Flag of United States United States National Cycling Champion
Tour de France (Stage 8)
Tour of America (overall)
Vuelta Ciclista a Galega
Trophee Laigueglia
Tour duPont (1 stage win)
Tour of Sweden (1 stage win)
Kmart West Virginia Classic (overall, 2 stage wins)
Thrift Drug Classic*

*The Thrift Drug Classic included 3 separate 1-day races. One in rural Pennsylvania, the next day in New Jersey and the last day in Philadelphia to determine the U.S. Pro Champion, also known as the CoreStates Cycling Race. Thrift Drug said it would award $1 million to a rider, if he won all 3 races. It had never been done before, until Lance Armstrong came around. He won all 3 races. At the USPro Championship race, on the final lap circuit, he sat up on his bicycle, took out a comb, combed his hair and smiled for the cameras.

Thrift Drug Classic
Tour duPont (1 stage win)
Tour de France (Stage 18)
Clásica de San Sebastián
Paris-Nice (Stage 5)
Tour duPont (overall, 3 stage wins)
Kmart West Virginia Classic (overall, 1 stage win)
Tour of America (overall)
Tour duPont (overall, 5 stage wins)
La Flèche Wallonne
Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt (overall)
Tour de Luxembourg (overall, 1 stage win)
Cascade Classic
Vuelta d'Espana (4th overall)
Tour de France (overall, 4 stage wins)
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (ITT) (Prologue)
Route du Sud (Stage 4)
Circuit de la Sarthe (ITT) (Stage 4)
Tour de France (overall, 1 stage win)
GP des Nations
GP Eddy Merckx
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (ITT) (Stage 3)
Bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics Individual Time Trial, Men
Tour de France (overall, 4 stage wins)
Tour de Suisse (overall, 2 stage wins)
Tour de France (overall, 4 stage wins)
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (Stage 6)
GP du Midi-Libre
Profronde van Stiphout (post-Tour criterium)
Tour de France (overall, 1 stage win, Team Time Trial)
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (overall, Stage 3 ITT)
Tour de France (overall, 5 stage wins, Team Time Trial)
Tour de Georgia (overall, 2 stage wins)
Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon (Stage 5)
Volta ao Algarve (ITT) (Stage 4)
Profronde van Stiphout (post-Tour criterium)
Tour de France (overall, 2 stage wins, Team Time Trial, Individual Time Trial)
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (points classification)

Personal Statistics

  • Height: 5'-9.75" (177 cm)
  • Weight: 165 lb (75 kg) in 1993, 79 kg in 1999


  • On the Champs-Élysées podium for the last time, after winning his seventh tour: "Finally the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics. I'm sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe it. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I'll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets - this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So Vive le Tour. Forever."
  • About the French 2006 FIFA World Cup team during his speech of gratitude at the ESPY Awards: "All their players tested positive... for being assholes."
  • "Pain is temporary, it may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place."
  • "Anything is possible. You can be told that you have a 100-percent chance or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight."
  • "A boo is a lot louder than a cheer, if you have 10 people cheering and one person booing all you hear is the booing."

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