American Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory after a positive doping test and a public battle to prove his innocence, has told a New Zealand newspaper that he may never compete again in cycling’s most important race.
Landis, now 34, told the Herald on Sunday newspaper that infighting between cycling’s biggest movers and shakers will likely mean he will not be returning to the Tour.
“I don’t think it’s a possibility next year, or ever, for that matter,” said Landis, the first Tour winner in more than 100 years to be stripped of his title. “I can’t foresee what the politics in cycling will possibly lead to, but the organizations in control are not working well together. There are people caught in the crossfire and I happen to be one of them, so I don’t know if the opportunity will come up again. I would like to. But it’s very sensitive.”
Landis — who was disqualified and banned for two years after doping controls found a skewed testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in the 2006 Tour — is in New Zealand to compete in the nine-stage Tour of Southland.
Landis’s comments come after his return season to racing, which began with the Amgen Tour of California in February.
After a lackluster comeback, Landis admitted he likely won’t be getting many offers from Tour-bound teams. But he said politics plays a role, too.
“I would need a team to invite me and they would have to be willing to take the risk that they wouldn’t be used as some sort of (pawn),” he said. “The UCI and Tour de France don’t get on well at the moment and they like to use whatever they can, whatever pawns are in the middle, to try to make a point. Most teams are afraid of giving them any reason to make them the pawn.”
Landis also talked about his return to racing, which he said was not about trying to prove a point.
“I knew there would be a time when I would be allowed to race again,” he said. “There were times when I wasn’t particularly motivated to do so. There were other times when I enjoyed riding my bike again.
“At no time did I feel I needed to come back for some kind of redemption. My motivation in bike racing is never of that nature anyway. I like to compete and set goals. That’s still the same.”
The Tour of Southland, which starts Monday, has attracted a record field of 125 riders.