The Tour de France is less than a couple of months away, and we’re currently in the middle of watching the best cyclists in the world race both the Giro d’Italia and the Amgen Tour of California. It’s a great time to enjoy cycling, and read about all the on-course jockeying and drama. But likely the biggest piece of cycling news all year just dropped: Floyd Landis has not only admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in the past, but he’s also implicated THE biggest names in all of professional cycling.
ESPN.com presents the basic story of Landis admitting to “extensive, consistent” use of performance enhancing drugs:
In a lengthy telephone interview from California, Landis detailed 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.
The Wall Street Journal goes into more detail, and names names of some of his co-conspirators:
In the same email, Mr. Landis wrote that after breaking his hip in 2003, he flew to Girona, Spain—a training hub for American riders—and had two half-liter units of blood extracted from his body in three-week intervals to be used later during the Tour de France. The extraction, Mr. Landis claimed, took place in Mr. Armstrong’s apartment, where blood bags belonging to Mr. Armstrong and his then-teammate George Hincapie were kept in a refrigerator in Mr. Armstrong’s closet. Mr. Landis said he was asked to check the temperature of the blood daily. According to Mr. Landis, Mr. Armstrong left for a few weeks and asked Mr. Landis to make sure the electricity didn’t go off and ruin the blood. George Hincapie, through a spokesman, denied the allegations.
Landis’ story has been a soap opera-like drama filled with all kinds of twists since 2006, and this most recent story will inevitably have huge implications and will certainly fuel heated debate among cyclists, fans and bloggers. But it’s important to note, as mentioned in the ESPN.com article, “He [Landis] added that he has no documentation for many of the claims he is making about other riders or officials, and that it will be his word against theirs.”
Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but was stripped of his title and banned from professional racing for two years after he was accused, and subsquently proven guilty, of having testosterone levels higher than allowed by the UCI.
You know Floyd Landis was a very successful professional mountain bike racer before he won the Tour de France, right? If not, read the Dirt Rag interview with Floyd Landis from issue #110…that’s where the photo for this post was borrowed from.
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