Friday, May 28, 2010

Floyd Landis Has Nothing To Hide

Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France, issued this statement: "I believe most of Floyd Landis' statements regarding the systemic corruption in professional cycling. I imagine from my own experiences that today he is paying a heavy price for his honesty and I support Floyd in his attempt to free himself from his past. I hope that others -- fans, riders and sponsors embrace this as an opportunity to bring about positive change in the sport."

ESPN:
Nearly four years after he began waging a costly, draining and ultimately losing battle to discredit his positive test for synthetic testosterone at the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis told ESPN.com on Wednesday he used performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career as a professional road cyclist, including the race whose title he briefly held.

In a lengthy telephone interview from California, Landis detailed extensive, consistent use of the red blood cell booster erythropoietin (commonly known as EPO), testosterone, human growth hormone and frequent blood transfusions, along with female hormones and a one-time experiment with insulin, during the years he rode for the U.S. Postal Service and Switzerland-based Phonak teams.

Landis confirmed he sent e-mails to cycling and anti-doping officials over the past few weeks, implicating dozens of other athletes including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, team management and owners, and officials of the sport's national and international governing bodies. Armstrong has long been dogged by accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, but no anti-doping authority has ever confirmed that he tested positive.

"I have nothing to hide ... history speaks for itself here," Armstrong told reporters before the Tour of California on Thursday. "It's his word versus ours ... we like our word, we like our credibility."

The World Anti-Doping Agency said in a statement Thursday that it would open an investigation into Landis' allegations.

In an e-mail to USA Cycling president Steve Johnson dated April 30, Landis related a number of anecdotes he said were representative of his time in the European peloton.

He said Johan Bruyneel, the longtime sports director of the U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack teams who guided Armstrong and Spain's Alberto Contador to a combined nine Tour de France victories, "instructed" Landis on how to use testosterone patches when he was riding for Postal in 2002. Landis added that he first used EPO on Bruyneel's advice the following summer while training for the Tour of Spain, that he obtained the drug directly from Armstrong, and that he started using HGH that he bought from a team trainer in Valencia during that same training period.

In the same e-mail, Landis said he worked with Armstrong's personal trainer, Dr. Michele Ferrari of Italy, who consulted with several riders on the Postal team at the height of Armstrong's career. Ferrari helped Landis with the extraction and re-transfusion of his own blood during one session in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2002, according to Landis.

"I paid [Ferrari] $10,000 [that season]," Landis told ESPN.com. "He only accepted cash. His normal fee is 10 percent of your salary."

"I mean, he's one of the best references," Landis said of Ferrari, who worked with numerous top cyclists. In 2004, Ferrari was convicted of sporting fraud and abusing his medical license by an Italian court, but later succeeded in having that judgment reversed on appeal. "I didn't wish to take the risks on my own and especially since it was fairly clear that his advice was endorsed by Lance himself," Landis said in the ESPN.com interview. "And therefore Johan and the other guys that knew of it and were involved -- working with him, they'd understand the risks that I was taking as well and therefore trust me."

Landis also said he and Armstrong discussed the efficacy of the then-newly developed test for EPO in 2002.

In the e-mail to Johnson, Landis said he had blood extracted in 2003 inside the apartment Armstrong owned in the historic center of Girona, Spain, and that it was stored in a refrigerator there along with blood extracted from Armstrong and teammate George Hincapie. Landis said Armstrong asked him to stay in the apartment on one occasion while Armstrong was away in order to make sure the refrigerator did not malfunction.

He also said in the e-mail that a team doctor gave him and Hincapie, who he said was his roommate during the 2003 Tour de France, syringes filled with olive oil in which andriol, a form of testosterone that can be taken orally, had been dissolved.

Landis further described personally seeing other riders receive transfused blood, including once on the team bus after a stage of the 2004 Tour de France. The bus driver stopped on a "remote mountain road" for an hour, pretending the bus had engine trouble while the entire team received transfusions, Landis said in the e-mail.

The timing of the Landis allegations -- right in the middle of the Tour of California -- did not go unnoticed. Bruyneel suggested the reason the dethroned 2006 Tour champion made his allegations now is because his team was not allowed to ride in the Tour of California. "He saw all the doors are closed... His timing is obviously not a coincidence."

Landis' doping conviction cost him his Tour title, his career, his life savings and his marriage. He said he knows his credibility is in tatters and that many people will choose not to believe him now. He added that he has no documentation for many of the claims he is making about other riders or officials, and that it will be his word against theirs.

However, Landis said he decided to come forward because he was suffering psychologically and emotionally from years of deceit and he has become a cycling pariah with little to no chance of ever riding for an elite team again. Prior to speaking with ESPN.com, he said he made his most difficult phone call -- to his mother in Pennsylvania to tell her the truth for the first time.

"I want to clear my conscience," Landis said. "I don't want to be part of the problem anymore."


Landis said he takes full responsibility for having doped on every occasion that he did it, and added he was never forced or threatened.

"I don't feel guilty at all about having doped," Landis told ESPN.com. "I did what I did because that's what we [cyclists] did and it was a choice I had to make after 10 years or 12 years of hard work to get there, and that was a decision I had to make to make the next step. My choices were, do it and see if I can win, or don't do it and I tell people I just don't want to do that, and I decided to do it."

More information:
» Lance and Cycling's Doping Problems

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