RadioShack team leader responds to doping accusations
Lance Armstrong has rejected allegations made by Floyd Landis that the seven-time Tour de France winner was involved in doping practices while the two were teammates at US Postal Service. Armstrong, accompanied by RadioShack team director Johan Bruyneel, gave the following statement to media gathered outside the team's bus before the start of stage five of the Amgen Tour of California in Visalia on Thursday morning US time:
Lance Armstrong: Obviously everyone has questions about Floyd Landis and his allegations. I would say that I’m a little surprised, but I am not; this has been going on for a long time. The harassment and threats from Floyd started a few years ago and really, at that time, we largely ignored him. Johan can speak to what Floyd exactly wanted from us and the team. A year ago, I told him, ‘listen, you do what you have to do.' We are not gonna, we have nothing to say and nothing to hide.
They started again with some consistency and energy about a month ago before this race when Floyd continued to text, email and harass myself, Johan, Dave Zabriskie, Levi [Leipheimer], Andrew Messick, the CEO of Amgen, right around the time that they [Ouch-Bahati Foundation Racing Team] was trying to get into this race. Floyd made pointed threats to Messick and to the leadership of Amgen that if he wasn’t let in the race he was going to say X, Y and Z about their product.
I would remind everyone that this is a man that, first of all, from our perspective and from what’s gone on at US Postal and Discovery and all of those Tours, we have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from and if anyone has any questions we would be more than happy to answer them.
I would remind everyone that this is a man that has been under oath several times with a very different version. This is a man that wrote a book for profit that had a completely different version; this is somebody that took close to a million dollars from innocent people for his defence under a different premise and now when it’s all run out the story changes. So we are a little confused, maybe just as confused as you guys.
But with regard to the specific allegations and the specific claims, they are not even worth getting into. I’m not going to waste your time or my time. I think history speaks for itself here. We’ve all followed this case for the last four years. We’ve followed Floyd winning the Tour and we don’t know what he did or didn’t do when he was on that team [Phonak]. We can only speak about what he did when he was on our team. We followed the case, we followed all the drama with regard to the case and now we see something different. That is about it.
Did you ever pay the UCI [International Cycling Union] any money?
Absolutely not. No. That is the other thing, if you get into it. Obviously we’ve seen the email and that is not correct. But a lot of other things in the email, the timeline is off, if you go year by year.
Ultimately all of the other emails that have been sent around will come out. The emails to myself will come out. All of the emails to Andrew Messick will come out, to John Burke from Trek. For someone that says he is here to clear his conscience, why are you sending emails to other people’s sponsors, other people’s partners, to the organizer of the race, to the sponsors of the race? That has nothing to do with your conscience. So, eventually that will all come out. But, no, absolutely not.
Why did he pin-point you and Johan Bruyneel?
He didn’t. He pin-pointed a lot of people and I mean, let’s be honest. Obviously my name will be at the top of the story and my name will be in the headline. But, it goes from myself to Johan, to Levi, to Zabriskie, to Andy Rihs, to Jim Ochowicz to Michael Barry, to Matthew White, to Steve Johnson, to Pat McQuaid. At the end of the day, he pointed his finger at everyone still involved in cycling, everyone that is still enjoying the sport, everyone that still believes in the sport and everyone that still working in the sport was in the cross hairs.
I’m standing here with you guys because I won the Tour de France seven times. But, you have to keep in mind that the yellow jersey of this race [Dave Zabriskie] is also in the cross hairs and that is not by accident. Maybe that is a good strategy to get more attention but if I look at, I can use Allen Lim as an example, someone that I view has the highest standards and the highest ethics of anyone in this sport, the fact that he is thrown in there speaks volumes to the credibility of this and I think that’s, if I walk away with one word to sum this all up - credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.
What do you think about all the details in the emails?
I think if anyone browses the internet or the news groups of anyone’s Wikipedia page, that time line is easy to put together. I could have made it even juicier. Some of it is off, obviously the timing and the dates are off again, if you saw the rest of the emails that we have it speaks volumes to his mental state, and, the time of the day that he sent it, I don’t need to fill you guys in on people’s habits or lifestyles.
Did you contact him after he was emailing you?
It started a couple of years ago and as texts and I wrote him back after a while. Johan can speak more about what he wanted from the team but after a few of them they got to be so annoying that I wrote him back and said, ‘Floyd leave me alone. Do what you have to do, I’m going to be fine, don’t worry about me but you have to stop texting me, annoying me, you have to stop harassing me.’
Did you see him at the Tour of the Gila?
I saw him every day at the Tour of the Gila. Not one word was said. It was ironic because not one word would be said to any of us during the race. We heard stories about him talking to himself. But we would get home and all of a sudden we would have these emails form him at night. Strange.
Why do you think he chose to send the emails now?
I think the timing of the race is obvious. As I mentioned, he didn’t get in the race. To be honest, I was surprised that it didn’t come up in Sacramento. We were all fully expecting it to come out then. These emails have been out for quite some time.
Will you be taking legal action?
No, my days of legal action are over. Legal action takes time energy and a lot of money. I have sued a few people in my day and have been successful there in proving my innocence. But, I don’t need to do that anymore. My energy needs to be devoted to the team, to Livestrong, to my kids. I’m not going to waste time on that.
Will you cooperate with a Federal Prosecutor if they investigate this?
Do you think this will affect the rest of the season, the Tour of California or the Tour de France?
It’s definitely news and juicy, but at the end of the day bike fans are going to see the people talked about here, myself, Levi, Zabriskie, George, Johan, they know the truth.
Will this do anything to change your plans for the Tour de France?
Absolutely not. We all know that Floyd won’t be in France telling the story.
What happens if ASO does not let the team into the Tour de France this year?
At the end of the day why would they do that? We have a person who has been under oath several times with a completely different version, written a book with a completely different version, someone that took money. He said he has no proof. It is his word verses ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility. I don’t think there is a lot of credibility on the other side so why would ASO think any differently. Keep in mind back in the day there was all this buzz that Floyd said he had pictures of a refrigerated motorcycle. Where is that? It’s all a bunch of bullshit and never existed.
What about the French prosecutors who have the medical waste deposits?
I have no idea what the story is there and I haven’t been asked about that or informed about that. Other people are aware of that.
You and Landis were close friends?
It is very sad. At one point or another, all of us implicated have cared about Floyd, that is one things that we have shared in common. We might be on different teams, come in different backgrounds or be at different places in our lives but at some point we share this bond that we all gave him ladder at some point in his life when he dug himself a hole. We gave him the ladder to dig out of the Mercury situation. Andy Rihs came on and gave him a ladder to dig out of that hole. People aren’t throwing him ladders anymore. I don’t want to make a personal attack on Landis. I don’t think he is a good guy or a bad guy, he certainly has some issues.
Can you comment on Floyd saying that Johan taught you and him how to dope?
Other than saying it is not true? We can only speak about what happened on our team. I can’t tell you what happened on Phonak and I can’t tell you how he won the 2006 Tour de France. The one thing that brought this about was him testing positive for the synthetic testosterone, that he still denies. We categorically deny Johan teaching anybody, forget about Floyd teaching anybody to do that.
How does this impact US cycling?
It is not a good story. This is a distraction. If you look at this race and the turn out I’d say things are strong. The sponsorship is strong and I feel that the teams here will be in the Tour this summer and I am optimistic that this will, it is something that we have to deal with.