View Photo Gallery: Lance Armstrong may be banned from competition, but he remains immensely popular. (Thao Nguyen/AP)

A Baltimore cancer charity has decided that, in a choice between having its triathlon officially sanctioned and having Lance Armstrong compete, it'll take Armstrong.

He will participate in the Half Full Triathlon on Oct. 7 in Howard County, the Baltimore Sun reports In August, he gave up his fight against doping allegations and was banned for life by federations, like USA Triathlon, that comply with the World Anti-Doping Code. Armstrong has been banned from competing in the Chicago Marathon, which takes place on the same date as the Half Full, so he suddenly has room on his calendar.

“This event will always be a platform to raise awareness of Ulman Cancer Fund [for Young Adults], and having Lance here raises the visibility of our event and the cancer fight,” Brian Satola, the race director and COO of the Ulman fund, told the Baltimore Sun. “Lance since day one has been a supporter of the fund and arguably the most visible cancer survivor in the world, and that does matter to us.”

Armstrong is expected to race with survivors in the event’s half distance, which includes a .9-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

The move isn’t without controversy.

“The race holds a special place in my heart, and he’s there, and it ruins it for me,” Robert Villanueva, who finished third in the Half Full last year, told the Sun. “It says it’s OK to bend the rules and to create a new set of rules for Lance.”

Armstrong remains terrifically popular, with the majority of voters in a Post poll in August saying they did not believe he was guilty of doping. Now 40, Armstrong won a nonsanctioned marathon in Steamboat Springs, Colo., last month. He is expected to compete in the the Superfrog Triathlon Sept. 30 in Coronado, Calif.

“I am looking forward to competing alongside my fellow cancer survivors,” Armstrong said in a statement released by the Ulman Fund. “This race is a great example of what cancer survivorship is all about — not just surviving this disease, but truly living life on your own terms.”

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