WSJ and ESPN: Landis admits doping, alleges use by Armstrong, others
Nearly four years after he was disqualified as the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis told ESPN.com Wednesday night that he doped during much of his career. According to the story, Landis detailed his “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 that he rode for the U.S. Postal Service and Switzerland-based Phonak teams.”
VeloNews reached out to Landis by phone Wednesday night but did not receive a response.
Since being disqualified from the Tour victory for a positive doping test, Landis systematically denied any guilt. His book, “Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France,” was published in 2007.
Landis confirmed to ESPN.com that he sent a series of emails to USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson and others detailing his drug use and that of other riders.
The ESPN.com story broke after The Wall Street Journal ran a story based on emails from Landis. The WSJ story claimed three, unnamed people verified that the emails were from Landis, but Landis himself did not respond to WSJ’s requests for comment.
VeloNews received a copy of an email to USAC’s Johnson that makes doping allegations against Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Barry and Jose Luis Rubiera. He also listed Johan Bruyneel and Andy Rihs as supporters of doping practices.
WSJ said another email from Landis made similar allegations against Dave Zabriskie.
VeloNews attempted to contact all the named parties Wednesday night.
RadioShack press officer Philippe Maertens told VeloNews that Armstrong and Bruyneel will speak to the press tomorrow morning at the team’s bus at the start of stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California.
Sean Weide, U.S. media director for BMC Racing, told VeloNews that the team will issue a statement later regarding the allegations made against current BMC rider Hincapie and former Phonak boss — and current BMC Bicycles owner — Andy Rihs.
Garmin-Transitions communications director Marya Pongrace said that the team will offer comment soon regarding the allegations against its rider Zabriskie, who currently leads the Amgen Tour of California.
Landis has been riding this year for the OUCH-Bahati Foundation squad. His team manager Steve Owens responded to a request for comment via text: “We have no comment as a team and Floyd is unavailable.”
On March 9, Landis announced that he would ride with the new team Bahati Foundation, later retitled OUCH-Bahati Foundation. The week before that announcement, an updated Web site was unveiled, with the homepage story titled “Fraud, Lies, and Corruption – See How They Convicted An Innocent Man.”
His biography page on the site at the time concluded with this statement: “Landis underwent hip resurfacing surgery … and returned to professional cycling with Team OUCH in 2009, becoming the first professional cyclist to return to top level competition with an artificial joint. After 20,000 miles of cycling last year with his new hip, Landis now looks to regain his title as World’s Greatest Cyclist and, once again, inspire the world to greater heights in ‘classic’ American style!”
At the end of last season, Team OUCH’s parent company Momentum Sports Group (MSG) and Landis agreed to terminate their two-year contract (2009-2010). At the time, OUCH released a statement saying that, “For the 2010 season, Landis expressed to MSG that he desires to ride the longer, tougher stage races offered in Europe and internationally that better suit his strengths.”
2006 TOUR DE FRANCE FALL-OUT
Brian Holcombe contributed to this report.