By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Floyd Landis began to increase his reach to the mainstream sports fans in the U.S. today with a live satellite appearance on the ESPN sports program Outside the Lines. Host Bob Ley began the interview by asking Landis a few process questions before trying the blunt angle. "Have you ever taking performance enhancing substances?" To which Landis replied equally as bluntly, "Absolutely not."
Ley asked Landis if he had ever had a high testosterone level before, along with more questions about the specifics of the violation of the testosterone-epitestosterone ratio, with Landis trying his best to educate everyone in the media as he went along. "The ratio is four to one, which has been set by the UCI. Mine was above that. There is no indication of an outside source of testosterone. As far as what mine is, I don't know that. The blood tests that we give every three months to our federation don't give that. So I am waiting on the urine tests in the three races I won this year and the test from the Tour de France."
Landis was asked what his reaction to the news was when he first heard. "I was caught as much my surprise as anyone. I had two days of enjoying the biggest success of my life, and now I have to deal with this. But I have experts working on it to explain this natural occurrence."
Switching gears to the more general doping in cycling end of the spectrum, Landis said, "Clearly we have a reputation because we make it public before the person has a chance to defend himself. I was given less than forty-eight hours after the A sample showed an abnormal result. Because of this reputation I think it is above all other sports - we are more honest and out in the open."
Ley then played an excerpt from a morning program on which Lance Armstrong made comments regarding Landis, specifically what advice he would give to his former teammate. One of the pieces of advice that Lance had for Landis - one that he is obviously taking - is that if he believes he is innocent, to speak out as much as possible. When asked to comment on Armstrong's statements, Landis replied, "He is the biggest champion in the years I have been around. I got to experience winning [the Tour] with him and I saw him deal with [the accusations.] Now I have to deal with it. Walking through Charles de Gaulle on the way to Madrid today, I saw my face on the cover of every newspaper about it and it is not an experience I wanted to have."
Looking beyond in the direction that Landis would like to be looking at the moment, Ley asked if the glory of winning the Tour has been lost, even if the outcome of the test is a favourable one. "The glory from the outside perception, I cannot say. For me, I know the truth. I won it, I spent the last fifteen years of my life training for it. For me, it's good enough. It was something I proved for myself."
Finally, when asked about the comments his mother, Arlene Landis, had made to the press - specifically about the morals of his upbringing, Landis paused and then said, "It is the one thing to allow me to keep my dignity. I didn't talk to her as much in the recent years as I was training, but hearing that from my mother is enough to make me cry."