Floyd Landis has urged Bradley Wiggins to come forward and "tell the truth" in the wake of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report into 'Combating Doping in Sport'. Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews, Landis said that in his mind Wiggins should lose his 2012 Tour de France win, and the American raised serious doubts as to whether Team Sky would survive until this year's Tour de France.
Wiggins and his former squad, Team Sky, were heavily criticised by the Select Committee for their lack of medical records and their ethical stance in relation to Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) and performance enhancement. Although it had already been revealed in 2016 that Wiggins had taken the powerful corticoid, triamcinolone, on the eve of three Grand Tours between 2011 and 2013, fresh allegations surfaced in the Select Committee Report.
An anonymous source who gave evidence to the Select Committee claimed that Wiggins and potentially other riders at Team Sky were using the substance in order to lose weight and improve their strength ahead of the Tour de France. Out-of-competition use of corticosteroids is not banned and Wiggins has strenuously denied the allegation that he was given more triamcinolone than was approved.
"I don't know why, in the report, they said that there was no doping violation. For me it absolutely falls into that category, by the very definition," Landis said.
"They used it for performance enhancement and there's no ambiguity there. Wiggins should lose his Tour title. I can't see how the sport authorities can let it slide. You can't take them seriously if they don't act. There's a report right there for them, and for me WADA have no choice but to suspend him and take his title away. If they were legitimate, that's what they'd do."
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Both Team Sky and Wiggins have denied any wrongdoing, and on Monday night Wiggins appeared on the BBC to state that he had competed 100 per cent clean. For Landis, who was stripped of his Tour title in 2006 after failing an anti-doping test, the British rider and his former team lacked credibility. The American highlighted how Wiggins had lost over 10 kilos in order to transform himself from a successful track rider into a Grand Tour contender between 2008 and 2009, without any previous pedigree over three-week racing.
"For a guy like Wiggins, who was too heavy and not a climber, corticoids would be just as beneficial as steroids, EPO and blood doping, because if he didn't use it then he wouldn't have been able to get that skinny, and all the EPO in the world wouldn't have helped him get over the mountains," Landis said. "People shouldn't downplay what has gone on. He was using steroids. They kicked me out and they took my title for that. They better fucking take his."
In 2010 Landis famously blew the whistle on the systematic doping that took place at the US Postal Service team. He had previously denied doping, but the American's confession lead to a wave of suspensions for other athletes and the life-time ban of Armstrong in 2012. During the winter of 2011, before the US Anti-Doping Agency's final report, Wiggins doubted Landis' credibility and told Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview:
"I think you have to question Landis' credibility because he lied under oath before, and the stories that you hear about him drinking and things like that and you know, [making] telephone calls to people I know, threatening them with things, you just think that the guy appears to not all be there," Wiggins said at the time. "So when you see these kinds of claims in the press you have to question his credibility because it's almost like it's coming from a mad man, but at the same time maybe that's all borne out of frustration and things.
"You just never know, but you just look at the way his life has gone over the last five years and you think there's one person who it would have been so easy to have just admitted it when it happened in 2006, come clean if he did do it and he would have been back racing in a professional team making pretty good money," said Wiggins in the 2011 interview. "It's quite sad how his life has gone away, just dwindled away and now there's all these claims and counter claims and it's quite a sad story for him."
Wiggins' legacy has taken a severe hit in the last 48 hours, and although he has broken his silence, Landis has urged him to be completely transparent with the truth. Although he stopped short of displaying sympathy for Wiggins, Landis did add that the focus should also fall on the anti-doping authorities.
"I knew that he was being entirely hypocritical," Landis said when asked about Wiggins' comments from seven years ago.
"I was a cyclist and I could see how it works. I could see how he had evolved in this 30s from someone he wasn't before. All I could do at the time was take it personally and get upset, but he should tell the truth now because it's only going to get worse. It's bad, but it's going to get worse," Landis said.
"What he should do is come out and say the truth, that the whole anti-doping thing is a charade. That's what people should be learning here, not just pointing fingers at Wiggins. He's not the only one in this position. I don't care that he took drugs," Landis said. "The biggest point is that the only reason this was ever exposed was because of some Russian hackers. WADA did nothing, and they're the ones that should be demolished on the cover of these newspapers, not Wiggins. He didn't create this system. It's a fraud. The whole thing is a fraud."
The future of Team Sky has of course been raised since the publication of the Select Committee's report. The team have denied ever breaking the rules, and they were critical of the report's decision to publish allegations surrounding the use of corticoids. Dave Brailsford has faced several calls from within the media and the sport to step down, and Landis believes that it is only a matter of time before the curtain is drawn on Britain's first-and-only WorldTour team.
"This has to be the end of the team," he said. "I'm 100 per cent sure that there will not be a Sky team at the Tour de France this year. The little pieces add up and no one with more than two brain cells would add it all up and conclude that it was all just coincidental.
"I don't think a few of the guys like Froome and Brailsford realise how fucking smug and contemptible they look," Landis said. "They think that they come off looking smart, but they just look like the biggest assholes on Earth. They thought they were on top of the world and they thought it was all fun and games but Brailsford, no one is ever going to trust that guy again.
For Landis, the most disappointing aspect is that the sport of cycling moves from one crisis to the next.
"It's all going to happen again," he said. "One team will be taken down and then another team will pop up, from a country with new fans who don't know what cycling is really like. They'll yell and scream and there will be a bunch of drugs and it'll be the same old fucking story."