Tour De France champion Lance Armstrong is considering coming out of retirement in a bid to silence his bitter French critics, who refuse to stop accusing him of cheating.

The cyclist, who claimed his seventh Tour win earlier this year (05) before announcing his retirement, told talk show queen Oprah Winfrey he was considering a return in 2006 after being left heartbroken by ongoing allegations he used performance enhancing drugs to help him win his first international races.

The sports star has always maintained that the only drugs he took were ones to help him combat cancer.

He told Winfrey on her show yesterday (20SEP05), "I've started to think about it a little bit - about riding again... It's obviously not made me happy; it's awoken my competitive side."

His announcement drew gasps and applause from Winfrey's studio audience, which then chanted, "One more year."

But Armstrong fears any return to cycling's major stage will fail to end speculation that he once cheated to earn the famous yellow jersey.

He adds, "If I went back in 2006 it would just be the same stuff all over again - it would give them another opportunity... That's the part that says, 'You're crazy, don't do that.'

"This has been going on for seven years... All the other times made me mad... and this time it made me sad... It broke my heart."