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Floyd Landis: Bringing down the house

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

If truth be told, cycling does not receive too much press. When it does, it is almost invariably negative and involves the use of performance enhancing drugs. This article is a case in point.

Floyd Landis shot to fame in 2006 by winning the world’s most prestigious cycling event, the Tour de France, but within days it had turned to infamy as he was stripped of the title having failed a blood test. It was just the latest in a long line of substance abuse stories to dog the sport. Landis has always vehemently denied the claims that he is a drugs cheat and vowed to clear his name. Indeed, he has reportedly spent north of $1.5 million trying to do so. Opinion amongst experts and fans has been divided.

Yesterday, Landis finally decided enough was enough and admitted using so-called blood boosters, such as EPO, whilst riding for the US Postal team. “I made some misjudgements and want to clear my conscience. I don’t want to be a part of the problem anymore.”

Such a revelation is, in all honesty, surprising only in its timing. Why now after four years and more than $1.5 million spent? The bigger story to come out of Landis’s admission is his apparent determination to take others down with him, including the biggest name in the sport. It is believed that Landis sent e-mails to USA Cycling and the Union Cycliste Internationale (a governing body) in which he explicitly names other riders he claims have doped.

Lance Armstrong is by far the most high profile name implicated in the scandal. It is not the first time the seven times Tour de France winner has been accused of taking performance enhancing drugs. However, as yet, nobody has been able to provide conclusive evidence that this is true and so Armstrong must be seen as innocent. Landis’s revelation is however slightly different as he was a friend and teammate of Armstrong when they both rode for the US Postal team. Landis alleges that Armstrong regularly gave him advice on doping and how to avoid detection on training rides and even more startling is the allegation that Armstrong used to extract blood and undergo transfusions, storing the extracted blood in a fridge in his Girona apartment. Landis claims that Armstrong even asked him to keep an eye on the temperature of the fridge whilst he went away for a few weeks so that it remained optimal for blood storage. Armstrong described the claims as “incredible concoctions.”

Again, it must be stressed that these are merely allegations and just how believable are they? Landis is completely discredited following his own admission that he has cheated and his allegations do smack of sour grapes. He is though, somebody with inside information so to speak and so curiosity abounds. Whatever the case, it seems that Landis may have opened Pandora’s Box, as WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) and the US Food and Drug Administration have both pledged to launch investigations. Conspiracy theorists are busily bashing away on their keyboards, propagating incredible concoctions of their own.  One cannot help but think that we have not heard the last of this…

Categories: Cycling