Floyd Landis has no more fucks to give. That's one of the immediate takeaways from the sit-down Cyclingnews recently had with the man who followed Lance Armstrong's footsteps onto the Tour de France podium in 2006, before the title was stripped within weeks when an anti-doping test came back positive for testosterone.
Landis wears the armour of someone who has endured every possible criticism and insult and then simply decided not to care. He seems comfortable with where he's at now, whether it's beer in hand on the stage at the Cascade Cycling Classic criterium in Oregon or pitching his cannabis business in Colorado and online. And he certainly holds nothing back when talking about cycling's past, present and future.
Landis, 41, and Floyd's of Leadville business partner Dave Zabriske, 38, were in Bend, Oregon, last month to help longtime Landis supporter Roger Worthington promote Worthy Brewing, Worthington's brew pub on the east side of town. The pair had travelled to Bend with their mini entourage from a stop at Portland's River City Bicycles, where they unveiled a new Floyd's of Leadville product, CBD hemp oil gel tablets with purported anti-inflammatory and recovery benefits.
Worthington sponsored the Saturday evening criterium stage of the Cascade Classic, and so he invited Landis and Zabriske to join him on the dais for a little announcing, with the key word being 'little'; the duo didn't have much to say.
Landis and Zabriske were also billed as headliners for the Cascade Classic after-party at Worthy Brewing that Sunday evening and, as of that Saturday afternoon, they were still trying to decide what exactly their performance would entail. It's safe to say Zabriske was having second thoughts.
Cyclingnews sat down for lunch at Worthy Brewing the afternoon before the criterium with Landis, Zarbriske, Floyd's of Leadville spokesperson Scott Thomson, and several others. Although multiple people participated in the conversation, this transcript is limited to Cyclingnews' questions and Landis' responses. The transcript was also edited for length, clarity and legal considerations.
Cyclingnews: You were saying you don't watch the Tour anymore?
Landis: I watched a little last year. Last year was more exciting. This year was dumb. It sort of looks scripted at this point. I woke up the other day and tried to watch, where were they finishing, on the Galibier?
(Zabriske tells Landis it was the Izoard.)
They were finishing on a mountain two days ago, so I woke up early and turned it on. It got like 3 or 4k from the finish where I usually would watch it, but I got bored and went upstairs and hung out with Roger. So I don't know what happened, but I think Froome won, as far as I could tell.
CN: Do you have any interest in cycling anymore?
Landis: If it's convenient and it's nice out, I go for a bike ride. That doesn't happen very often. It's fun to be around the bike races if you're not in them. It'll be fun to go watch the crit tonight. I'm looking forward to it.
CN: When you were here seven years ago right after going public about Lance Armstrong and US Postal, there was a mixed reaction. People either loved Floyd or hated Floyd. Have you found that's changed at all?
Landis: I don't really know. My perception is that it sort of did. I think most people after they understood the story or read about it. I mean, there are still people who are mad about it. But those people are like children. You have to treat them like there are just certain things they don't understand, and in this case never will, so you can't get mad at them because they're just not smart enough to understand.
CN: It seems, though, that with things like being invited to bike shops, being invited to make appearances, that things have kind of eased off a little bit.
Landis: I don't put much effort into that kind of thing. I was happy to be away from it. Look, I like cycling. I just wish it was run better. The problem with what went down in 2010 and all that aftermath is nobody got punished that was actually at fault, right? I mean we were kids and we made decisions and we'll take some blame. But the fact of the matter is, it's still the same people running the sport… These guys all were in on it. They made money on it, and they threw us under the bus.
That's the sad part, because the kids coming up today are going to be subjected to the same people and the same things again, and they're going to go through with it.
I thought that when I came clean it would at least solve some of that, so that there would be some good that came out of the whole event that nearly killed me, and nothing happened. Travis Tygart promised me in the beginning that he would take it easy on the cyclists and he'd go after management. But he's friends with them. They all live in Colorado Springs… I would never encourage kids to get into it. It's a catastrophe. It's awful.
CN: So in your opinion little has changed?
Landis: That's not opinion. That's educated fact. Nothing has changed. I mean you look at it. On the face of it, you can see it. They gave a bunch of guys who were about to retire suspensions. It didn't change anything and management stayed the same. If people want to believe that, it's fine. They can believe whatever they want. But if they want to know the truth, I'm here to tell them that's what the deal is.
I don't care one way or the other. It doesn't affect me anymore. It's too bad the guys in charge can't be straight and be honest about it, but I guess they're all trying to protect their own perceived empires.
CN: Is anything else coming up with the Armstrong suit? Knaggs and Stapleton just settled.
Landis: The only thing left is for either a jury trial or Lance to settle. I'm not really that involved in it. I don't know if they'll call me as a witness or not. I don't really have that much to add. I mean everything I said has been accepted as fact now, so there isn't really anything I could say that would change anything.
CN: Is that case playing out the way you thought it would? You must have expected it to be long and drawn out.
Landis: I didn't really know what to think. I was more overwhelmed with what was happening at the time. I didn't really stop to think about it. It is a long time, but I mean, these things take a long time.
CN: It seems like you're in a better space right now – pretty happy, content, not like the magazine article that had you on death's door.
Floyd: Which one was that? (laughs) That was mostly satire that became fact. Like 'he lives behind a carwash' or something. I think they actually thought I was homeless.
CN: Seems like things are going pretty well now, though.
Landis: Things are fine. There were some bad days, but by the time they wrote that article it was more of just a joke about the whole thing. I always had good friends around. I had support from people who cared. I just needed some time. There wasn't anything else to be done. It just took time. Some of it is helped by the fact that people sort of know the whole story, and some of it's just time, I guess, to forget about things.
CN: How did the idea for Floyd's of Leadville come about? Was it your idea? Did someone approach you?
Landis: Scott and I had been talking about it for a while, and I talked to Dave about it. It's something that's helped me, and it's helped a lot of people that I know. I was a little concerned that people would – well the way it ended up working out was fine. It became more of a joke. Not that the company is a joke, but it's a joke, 'Ha ha, he's selling drugs now.' But we didn't get ridiculed like we would have in the past. We sell products that help people and make their lives better. There are still people on the other side of the fence who think it's a gateway drug, but none of those things are true.
Fortunately, America has come around to realise that we've been sold a lot of propaganda over the last 50 years. I'm happy to put my name on it. I have no issues at all. You can abuse anything. We can talk about that, but it shouldn't prevent other people from having a better quality of life because some people can't control themselves.
CN: How is business going?
Landis: At the moment, we're promoting our CBD stuff, because you can ship it and sell it in every state. Colorado is good. The market is big. We're working on legislation in other states. It's still evolving, and states are going to benefit from being able to see how other states did it and it will get it passed. But it still takes years. It's going to take awhile.
CN: Do you want to expand into other states?
Landis: Yeah, at some point. But Colorado is a big market, and we don't want to stretch ourselves too thin. Oregon would be nice. I like it here. It would give me a reason to come here every once in a while.
CN: Where are you living now?
Landis: Colorado, and I'm traveling around a bit promoting stuff.
CN: So you and Dave get out and even get a chance to perform every once in a while?
Landis: It's good. There were a few years there where I didn't talk to Dave much because I was in my own little head space. Once in a while we'll reminisce about something, but not too much. You don't want to overdo it.
CN: Are you finding more people coming back into your circle who maybe had pushed you away?
Landis: Not really, no. I have plenty of friends, and I don't really need that kind of extra drama. I'm indifferent now. If they want to be my friend, that's fine. If not, no big deal. Cycling still has a problem with me. I can sense it. People don't really know what to do.
CN: How to receive you? There was some drama at the Tour this year because they didn't invite Ullrich, the only German winner of the Tour, to the start in Dusseldorf.
Landis: That's just another demonstration of how petty these people are and how inconsistent they are with applying their so-called ethics. These are bad people who run the races and bad people who run cycling. Until that gets cleaned up, it's just going to be more hypocrisy.
I don't think Ullrich gives a shit. I certainly don't. I'd be offended if they thought I'd waste my time to come see them, honestly. That settles that.
CN: No invites to the Tour for Floyd Landis then. When you were here seven years ago and had just blown the whistle on Lance, you came up for the opening time trial and I think you were in your Ouch skinsuit. They made you take it off at the start line and you raced in a T-shirt.
Landis: It wasn't a skinsuit. It was just a jersey. They said there was a rule that because I wasn't on that team I couldn't wear that jersey. I asked what jersey I could wear and they said it had to have no brands of any kind on it. I don't own any of those. I don't know anyone who owns any of those. So I went and got a T-shirt. It didn't matter. I didn't care, but it just shows how petty and stupid they are. Once you're on the bad side of things they will just make up rules that have no point and make no sense. Like I said, these are the same people, the same officials, the same USA Cycling. It's all still just infested with disgusting people.
CN: So you don't think cycling can change?
Landis: No, there's no hope. There isn't any. That's just a fact. We can sit here and be pie in the sky, but they're not changing. If they didn't change when they had the chance, that was the time, because everyone was looking at it and that was the time. And they pointed at us: me, Lance, and these guys and said, 'You're the bad guys.'
(Someone at the table, it's not clear who, says, 'Trump will fix it. Make cycling great again').
Landis: Cycling was never great. I think Americans had a misconception about what it really was. It's always been about drugs from day one. It's never been any different. A bunch of wealthy Americans got into it and they enjoyed it and they wanted to see it as this pure way to get healthy, and that's fine for them, that's what it was.
But then they adopted this as their sport and they applied rules that, I mean, frankly, people here are confused about what was going on. They all knew everyone was on drugs and accepted it. And now they've created this whole anti-doping agency. It's an American elitist thing is what it is. It's not a European thing. We forced it on them with the Olympics and everything else. They don't give a shit. They're still out there watching races. They don't care.
CN: Cookson was supposed to be a reformer.
Landis: It's the same as US Postal Service. It'll all blow up in the end. Some people will walk away with bunch of money, and then it will start all over again, I guess. That's what it seems like to me.
It's not sustainable, what they're doing. We know the story, we just have to wait to hear what the details are, is all.
CN: There was the mystery package delivery to Wiggins and the TUE issue with Sky as well. (Landis pivots the question to address the 'mistaken' shipment of testosterone that Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman received at the Manchester Velodrome in 2011).
Landis: They tried to claim that in the middle of all this, that just by coincidence some pharmacy mailed a bunch of testosterone to their headquarters, and that was purely an accident.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever just received a bunch of testosterone? Yeah, me neither. Well, not when I wasn't ordering it.
CN: Do you enjoy watching domestic racing better then?
Landis: I like watching both. I don't watch it because I admire them, although I do, because they work hard. I should put this into context in some way. The cyclists are out there doing what they're doing because that's how you do it to compete. And I'm fine with that. I don't not watch because I resent them, I'm fine with them.
I just resent the fact that they put me through all that and they put a bunch of other guys through all that, and then nothing has changed. Not a fucking thing. It's offensive. It's offensive. They put me in a place where I nearly died, and for that nothing was accomplished.
CN: Is that the most disappointing thing for you from all of this?
Landis: Absolutely. When I finally had time to sit and think about it, that's the biggest disappointment of it all. If you want to go ahead and put me on a pedestal and say, 'He's the bad guy,' and it fixes everything, I'd almost be OK with that. I wouldn't volunteer to be that, but at least something good would come of it.
They rearranged a few pieces and said it's a different game, but it's the same game. It's obvious. You'd have to be trying to not see it. You'd have to not want to see it. And if that's what they want, then fine, but don't pretend it's something different than it is.
But I like riding my bike. It's addictive.