Floyd Landis: Cycling is no cleaner today

Floyd Landis believes that cycling has not cleaned up its doping problems in the post-Lance Armstrong era. In an interview with CyclingWeekly, the former American cyclist who tested positive for testosterone at the 2006 Tour de France and was subsequently banned, said that he expected cheating to continue unless cycling's management was overhauled and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) shut down.

"It's not going to change until the management of cycling changes and until WADA is completely dissolved and a new organisation is set up that isn't beholden to the Olympic committee," Landis told CyclingWeekly in a report on Tuesday. "That's the heart of the matter."

WADA is currently under fire for voting to reinstate Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in September. Other Anti-Doping bodies argued that RUSADA had not fulfilled the terms of its 'roadmap' to compliance set down by WADA in the first place, and that WADA lowered its compliance standards.

Members of WADA's executive committee, including president Craig Reedie, also hold positions in the IOC.

'Nobody from management in cycling ever paid'

In 2010, Landis filed a 'whistleblower' lawsuit under the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to sue individuals for defrauding the government. He claimed that Lance Armstrong defrauded the government for doping activities that took place on his team when it was state-sponsored by the US Postal Service, when he won six of his seven Tours de France titles.

Armstrong was potentially liable for $100 million if the case had gone to trial but he settled for $5 million in April, a month before expected trial date. He was stripped of all seven Tour titles (won between 1999 and 2005) in 2012.

"There were times in the last couple of years when frankly I would have just dropped the case [against Armstrong] if I had any power to do it, but the government took over the case. There were times I even felt bad for Lance," Landis said of the case battled in courts for nearly eight years.

Landis, who retired in 2011, confessed to his own drug use during his career in an email to USA Cycling's former CEO Steve Johnson that was dated in April 2010. The email detailed some of his doping practices beginning in 2002 and implicated Americans Armstrong, George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer. He also implicated Johan Bruyneel, who managed US Postal under the company Tailwind Sports between 1999 and 2004, and Jim Ochowicz, former president of USA Cycling’s Board of Directors until 2008 and now manages BMC Racing.

"At this point, I'm not even sure the entire episode accomplished anything," Landis said. "Nobody from management in cycling ever paid. We gave all kinds of information on USA Cycling ... everyone knew it and was in on it and WADA just refused to do anything about it. They just wanted athletes, which is disappointing, so I'm glad it’s over."

Bruyneel has been ordered to pay $1.2 million to the US government for his part in the doping programme. Bruyneel is currently serving a 10-year ban from the sport.

Asked if he had any communication with Armstrong since the lawsuit, Landis said, "No I haven't had any contact with him in many years, other than I've seen him at a couple of mediations that we were required to go to but we didn’t speak a word to each other.

"I'm sure he resents me. I don't have any hard feelings towards him. I understand why he views it the way he does. I hope he finds some peace and can move on. That kind of public humiliation kills some people. We’ve seen it happen in cycling time and time again, people end up dead. So the fact we’re both still alive I think is a win."

As the whistleblower, Landis was entitled to up to 25 per cent of the recovered money, and he walked away with $750,000, after paying off his legal fees, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal in early October.

He plans to use the remaining funds, along with money from his company Floyd's of Leadville - a shop that sells legal cannabis products in Colorado - to sponsor the Canadian-registered Continental team Silber Pro Cycling. The team had been searching for a new title sponsor to help continue racing next year.

When CyclingWeekly asked if he believed the sport was any cleaner today than it was when he raced, he said, "No of course not. All the evidence is there that it's not."

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