Friday, May 21, 2010

Lance Armstrong dismisses Floyd Landis doping claims

Lance Armstrong has dismissed disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis's allegations that he saw the seven-time Tour de France winner use illegal drugs on a team bus.

Stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, Landis has admitted that he regularly doped as a rider.

Landis also accused cycling boss Johan Bruyneel and Armstrong of paying off a cycling official over a failed test.

"We have nothing to hide. With regards to the specific claims, they're not worth getting into it," Armstrong said.

Armstrong has often been accused by his rivals and critics of cheating but has never officially failed a doping test and has always maintained his innocence.

"I'm not going to waste my time or your time. It's our word against his word. I like our word," added Armstrong, with his long-time coach Bruyneel standing next to him. "We like our credibility."

The 32-year-old Landis has sent a series of e-mails to cycling officials and sponsors acknowledging and detailing his long-term use of banned drugs, and accusing former team-mate Armstrong of doing the same, including once on a team bus during a race.

American Landis claimed Armstrong and 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.

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.

However, Armstrong won the Tour de Suisse in 2001, not 2002, prompting the cycling great to say: "We're a little confused, maybe just as confused as you guys. The timeline is off, year by year."

The UCI released a statement saying it had "never changed or concealed a positive test result."

Landis also alleged that Bruyneel had introduced Landis to practices including steroid patch use and blood doping.

Bruyneel led the US Postal team which later became Discovery Channel, to victory in eight of nine Tour de France races from 1999, including Armstrong's seven successive wins between 1999-2005.

Landis joined US Postal in 2002, and teamed with Armstrong in three Tour de France campaigns before winning in 2006 riding for Phonak.

Landis also implicated other cyclists, including Armstrong confidant George Hincapie.

"I have been a professional on the circuit for 17 years - which is one of the longest careers in the peloton," said Hincapie.

"During that time, I have earned the respect of my peers and a reputation for working hard, honestly and honourably. I'm really disappointed to hear these accusations."

Landis says he is speaking out now partly because World Anti-Doping Agency's statute of limitations for doping offences of eight years meant his evidence would shortly become unusable.

"I made some misjudgements and want to clear my conscience," Landis told ESPN. "I don't want to be part of the problem any more."

Team Radioshack's Armstrong, 38, spoke to reporters before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour of California.

"I think history speaks for itself here," Armstrong said. "We don't know what he did or didn't do during the Tour. We followed the case, followed all the drama with regards to the [Landis] case. And now we see something different.

"At the end of the day, he pointed the finger at everybody still involved in cycling, everybody that's still enjoying the sport, everybody that still believes in the sport, everybody that's still working in the sport, was in the crosshairs."

Landis lost his appeal against being banned for two years and stripped of the 2006 Tour title at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which threw out his case in June 2008 and ordered him to pay $100,000 (£69,000) in judicial costs to the US Anti-Doping Agency.

His attempts to clear his name are believed to have cost him some $2m (£1.4m).

Landis revealed he first used performance-enhancing drugs in 2002 when he was a member of the US Postal team.

He said he had used testosterone, human growth hormone and female hormones as well as making use of frequent blood transfusions.

He also confessed to a one-time experiment with insulin, adding he was never threatened or forced to take drugs.

However, Landis maintains the result of his test at the 2006 Tour, when he was riding for Swiss team Phonak, was inaccurate and that he had been taking human growth hormone and not the synthetic testosterone he tested positive for.


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