Floyd Landis admits doping; new allegations denied by Lance Armstrong
Disgraced U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis revealed new cheating allegations in a series of messages to sponsors and officials, alleging that former teammate Lance Armstrong not only joined him in doping but taught others how to beat the system and paid an official to keep a failed test quiet.
With international cycling season in full swing, Landis admitted for the first time what had long been suspected: that he was guilty of doping for several years before being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title.
His fresh accusations, contained in e-mails sent last month, prompted Armstrong to hold an impromptu news conference Thursday at the Tour of California. "If you said, 'Give me one word to sum this all up,' credibility," the seven-time Tour de France winner said. "Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.
"We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from," said Armstrong, who later quit the race to go to a hospital for X-rays after crashing just outside Visalia, Calif. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens told the Associated Press that Armstrong got stitches in the left elbow and under his left eye.
Though Landis lost his title, he denied cheating until now, and his recent e-mails detail his blood doping. "I want to clear my conscience," Landis told ESPN.com. "I don't want to be part of the problem any more."
He claims that Armstrong and longtime coach Johan Bruyneel paid an International Cycling Union official to cover up a test in 2002 after Armstrong purportedly tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The UCI denied changing or concealing a positive test result.
In an e-mail sent to USA Cycling chief Steve Johnson, Landis said Armstrong's positive EPO test was in 2002, around the time he won the Tour de Suisse. Armstrong won the Tour de Suisse in 2001 and did not compete in 2002. "We're a little confused, maybe just as confused as you guys," Armstrong said, with Bruyneel by his side. "The timeline is off, year by year."
The Wall Street Journal first reported the details of the e-mails.
Landis implicated other cyclists, including longtime Armstrong confidant George Hincapie and Olympic medalist Levi Leipheimer, and acknowledged using human growth hormone starting in 2003. The Wall Street Journal reported that another e-mail from Landis also linked another top American racer, Dave Zabriskie, to doping.
Landis said he was asked at one point to stay in an apartment where Armstrong was living and check the temperature in a refrigerator where blood was being stored for future transfusions. "Mr. Armstrong was planning on being gone for a few weeks to train [and] he asked me to stay in his place and make sure the electricity didn't turn off or something go wrong with the refrigerator," Landis wrote.
Hincapie said he was "really disappointed" by the allegations. Jim Ochowicz, a former top USA Cycling official -- who also was implicated by Landis -- defended himself and Hincapie.
"These allegations are not true, absolutely unfounded and unproven," said Ochowicz, now the president of BMC Racing, Hincapie's current team.
Johnson said USA Cycling would not comment on Landis's series of e-mails, citing its policy on not discussing "doping allegations, investigations or any aspect of an adjudication process." The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also declined comment for similar reasons, and Landis did not respond to messages left by the Associated Press.