Former USA Cycling president Jim Ochowicz has downplayed allegations from Floyd Landis that he has been involved in political maneuvering between U.S. riders and the UCI.
In interview transcripts from Paul Kimmage, released on Monday by NYVelocity.com, Landis alleged that Ochowicz acted as an intermediary between himself and former UCI president Hein Verbruggen in 2002. According to Landis, U.S. Postal Service teammate Lance Armstrong urged him to offer an apology to Verbruggen after going public with a complaint that he was unable to secure payment from a bank guarantee after the Mercury-Viatel team folded in 2001. In the interview, Landis claimed that Armstrong divulged to him a positive doping test at the 2001 Tour de Suisse that was concealed by Verbruggen.
Armstrong has denied ever doping.
According to Landis, Armstrong told him, “‘Look Floyd, you have got to do what this guy says because we’re going to need a favour from him at some point. It’s happened in the past. I had a positive test in 2001 at the Tour of Swiss and I had to go to these guys.’”
Landis also described Ochowicz as the go-between: “He was the guy, the in-between guy, that’s what Lance explained to me. He said ‘Look, Jim Ochowicz is the guy that orchestrates this kind of thing.’”
Ochowicz on Tuesday dismissed the allegations and told VeloNews that he could not recall any specific phone call that occurred between himself, Landis and Verbruggen.
“I know that Floyd had problems with the Mercury team,” said Ochowicz. “I don’t recall that conversation per se. I was the president of USA Cycling at that time and Hein Verbruggen was president of the international governing body so I had weekly discussions with him about hundreds of things over the years, so I can’t specifically remember that incident, no.”
Ochowicz denied ever witnessing the kind of nepotism outlined by Landis.
“I don’t believe the UCI gives anyone favors,” he said. “They operate as the international governing body and they regulate that through their rules and regulations and everybody lives by those rules and regulations. I don’t know why anybody would get an exemption… I’ve never heard of that.”
USA Cycling meeting
Landis also told Kimmage that prior to going public with his confession in May 2010, he “talked to (Ochowicz and USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson) openly about (his doping) and their advice was ‘Get through it and you’ll get back in cycling and we’re sorry but we can’t help you.’”
Ochowicz told VeloNews that he did meet with Landis and Johnson, but Landis did not tell him about his doping practices. “I did meet with Floyd and Floyd asked if USA Cycling could help and I told him we could not help and we could not get involved with a doping case,” said Ochowicz. “It was not handled by USA Cycling, it was handled by USADA.”