Four years after Floyd Landis declared his innocence, and after being stripped of the 2006 Tour de France yellow jersey, Landis is now admitting to systematic doping. In several emails sent to cycling and anti-doping officials, he has also implicated several cyclists, including seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.
Read more about the allegations from the Bonnie Ford at ESPN.com: Landis admits doping, accuses Lance
Lance Armstrong (Team Radio Shack) spoke to the press prior to the start of Stage 5 at the Amgen Tour of California in Visalia. He responded to the Landis allegations:
“Obviously everyone has questions about Floyd Landis and his allegations. I would say that I’m a little surprised, but I am not. In all honesty, this has been going on for a long time. The harassment and threats from Floyd started a few years ago and really, at the time, we largely ignored him. Johan can speak more to what Floyd exactly wanted from us, and the team. A year ago, I told him, ‘listen, you do what you have to do.’ We have nothing to say and nothing to hide.”
“They started again with some consistency, and with some energy about a month ago before this race when Floyd continued to email, text and harass myself, Johan, Dave Zabriskie, Levi (Leipheimer), Andrew Messick, the CEO of Amgen, right around the time that they were trying to get into this race. Floyd made pointed threats to Messick and to the leadership of Amgen that if he wasn’t let in the race he was going to say X, Y and Z about their product.”
“I would remind everyone that this is a man that has been under oath several times with a very different version. This is a man that wrote a book for profit that had a completely different version. This is somebody that took close to a million dollars from innocent people for his defense under a different premise and now when it’s all run out the story changes. So we are a little confused. Maybe just as confused as you guys.”
“But with regard to the specific allegations and the specific claims, they are not even worth getting into. I’m not going to waste your time or my time. I think history speaks for itself here. We’ve all followed this case for the last four years. We’ve followed Floyd winning the Tour and we don’t know what he did or didn’t do when he was on that team. We can only speak about what he did when he was on our team. We followed the case, we followed all the drama with regard to the case and now we see something different. That is about it.”
Was the UCI was paid off in a bribe?
Absolutely not, no. That is the other thing, if you get into it. Obviously we’ve seen the email and that is not correct. But a lot of other things in the email, the timeline is off, if you go year by year.”
“Ultimately all of the other emails that have been sent around will come out. The emails to myself will come out. All of the emails to Andrew Messick will come out, and to John Burke from Trek. For someone that says he is here to clear his conscience, why are you sending emails to other people’s sponsors, other people’s partners, to the organizer of a race, to the sponsors of a race? That has nothing to do with your conscience. Eventually that will all come out. But, no, absolutely not.”
Why focus on you and Brunyeel?
“He didn’t. He pin-pointed a lot of people and I mean, let’s be honest here. Obviously my name will be at the top of the story, and my name will be in the headline. But, it goes from myself to Johan, to Levi, to Zabriskie, to Andy Rihs, to Jim Ochowicz to Michael Barry, to Matthew White, to Steve Johnson, to Pat McQuaid. At the end of the day, he pointed the finger at everyone still involved in cycling, everyone that is still enjoying the sport, everyone that still believes in the sport and everyone that is still working in the sport was in the cross hairs.”
“I’m standing here with you guys because I won the Tour de France seven times. But you have to keep in mind that the yellow jersey of this race is also in the cross hairs and that is not by accident. Maybe that is a good strategy to get as much attention as possible, but if I look at, I can use Allen Lim as an example, someone that I view that has the highest standards and the highest ethics of anybody in this sport, the fact that he is thrown in there speaks volumes to the credibility of this and I think that’s, if I walk away with one word to sum this all up – credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.”
Can you comment on the emails content?
“I think if anyone browses the internet or the news groups of anyone’s Wikipedia page, that time line is easy to put together. I could have made it even juicier. Some of it is off, obviously the timing and the dates and the people are off again. If you saw the rest of the emails that we have it speaks volumes to his mental state, and, the time of the day that they were sent it. I don’t need to fill you guys in on people’s habits or lifestyles.”
“It started a couple of years ago and as texts and I wrote him back after a while. Johan can speak more about what he wanted from the team but after a few of them they got to be so annoying that I wrote him back and said, ‘Floyd leave me alone. Do what you have to do, I’m going to be fine, don’t worry about me but you have to stop texting me, annoying me, you have to stop harassing me.’”
Did you see Landis at the Tour of Gila?
“I saw him every day at the Tour of the Gila. Not one word was said. It was ironic because not one word would be said to any of us during the race. We heard stories about him talking to himself. But we would get home and all of a sudden we would have these emails from him at night”
Why now, why send the emails now?
“I think the timing of the race is obvious. As I mentioned, he didn’t get in the race. To be honest, I was surprised that it didn’t come up in Sacramento. We were all fully expecting it to come out then. These emails have been out for quite some time. We were fully expecting this then.”
Will you take any legal action?
“No, my days of legal action are over. Legal action takes time energy and a lot of money. I have sued a few people in my day and have been successful there and proved my innocence. But, I don’t need to do that anymore. My energy needs to be devoted to the team, to Livestrong, to my kids. I’m not going to waste time on that.”
Will you cooperate with a Federal Prosecutor?
What affect will the allegations have on the Tour of California and the Tour de France?
“It’s definitely news and juicy and salacious, but at the end of the day bike fans are going to see the people talked about here, myself, Levi, Zabriskie, George, Johan, they know the truth.”
Will this change your Tour de France plans?
“Absolutely not. We all know that Floyd won’t be in France telling the story.”
Would the ASO react negatively to the team for the Tour de France? “
At the end of the day why would they do that? We have a person who has been under oath several times with a completely different version, written a book with a completely different version, someone that took people’s money. He said he has no proof. It is his word verses ours. We like our word. We like where we stand. We like our credibility. I don’t think there is a lot of credibility on the other side so why would ASO think any differently. Keep in mind back in the day there was all this talk that Floyd said he had pictures of a refrigerated motorcycle. Where is that? It’s all a bunch of bullshit and never existed.”
“It is very sad. At one point or another, all of us implicated have cared about Floyd, that is one thing that we have shared in common. We might be on different teams, come in different backgrounds or be at different places in our lives but at some point or another we share this bond that we all gave him a ladder at some point in his life when he dug himself a hole. We gave him the ladder to dig out of the Mercury situation. Andy Rihs came along and gave him a ladder to dig out of that hole. People aren’t throwing him ladders anymore. I don’t want to make a personal attack on Floyd Landis. I don’t think he is a good guy or a bad guy. He certainly has some issues. You know that as well as I do. I’m not breaking any news here. Floyd is an interesting character. He’s volatile.”
Did Johan teach riders to dope?
“Other than saying it is not true? We can only speak about what happened on our team. I can’t tell you what happened at Phonak and I can’t tell you how he won the 2006 Tour de France. The one thing that brought this about was him testing positive for the synthetic testosterone. He denies that still which is slightly odd. We categorically deny Johan teaching anybody, forget about Floyd teaching anybody to do that.”
What do you think the impact of this situation will be on US Cycling?
“No doubt it is not a good story. This is a distraction. If you look at this race and the turn out I’d say things are strong. The sponsorship is strong and I feel that the teams here will be in the Tour this summer and I am optimistic that this will, but this is something that we have to deal with.”
Armstrong crashed early in stage 5 and had to abandon the race. His x-rays were negative and he left the hospital with only stitches.