Howman: WADA helping with U.S. investigation into Landis claims

David Howman, WADA's director general, says the agency is working with U.S. authorities to investigate doping claims made by Floyd Landis.

Floyd Landis’ allegations about doping in cycling have sparked a “significant” inquiry that could take months to complete, a top World Anti Doping Agency official said Tuesday.

David Howman, WADA’s director general, told AFP that the agency has helped U.S. investigators establish cooperation with their European counterparts through Interpol as the probe broadens.

Landis’ claims in May prompted the American authorities to launch a federal investigation led by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) special agent Jeff Novitzky, who earlier dismantled a key doping network in the United States.

“This investigation has been going on for many weeks and I think it is a significant inquiry,” Howman said. “And it’s one that might go on for many more weeks because it essentially started with a U.S. inquiry and is spreading.

“We’ve been persuading people to cooperate and think that would be helpful.”

Landis, a former member of U.S. Postal, won the Tour de France in 2006 while riding for Phonak, only to be stripped of the title after testing positive for a skewed testosterone/epitestosterone level.

Having consistently claimed his innocence for years, the American finally confessed to doping last month.

But in a bid to “clear his conscience,” Landis took his claims much further, accusing seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong and several other former teammates of using banned doping products or methods at the Postal squad.

Armstrong, who has consistently rejected such allegations, hit out at what he called more “false” doping accusations leveled by Landis only hours before the start of his final Tour de France on Saturday.

Howman said information from any athlete could not be dismissed.

“We have to say we were disappointed at having to spend so much money pursuing Mr. Landis, but you can’t say that’s something which should stop you from listening to him,” he added.

“That would show a closed mind.”

Howman reiterated that WADA was ready to listen to any leads that would help fight doping.

Novitzky led a successful probe into the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) scandal, which produced and supplied designer drugs for Major League Baseball players and athletes. Among those convicted were American sprint star Marion Jones and former track cyclist Tammy Thomas.
(Related: Directory of VeloNews articles on Landis’ allegations)