Floyd Landis: I hope Lance Armstrong finds some peace in his life
'I am one of the few people that can relate directly to what he went through'
It was 10 years ago today that his explosive doping allegations against Lance Armstrong went public and led to a media storm at the Amgen Tour of California. Now, Floyd Landis has replied without malice to comments Armstrong made in the upcoming ESPN documentary LANCE by Marina Zenovich.
In it, Armstrong says, "It could be worse, I could be Floyd Landis, waking up a piece of shit every day," but Landis, who suffered his own disgrace after being disqualified from winning the 2006 Tour de France when he tested positive for testosterone, says he has no animosity toward Armstrong.
Regarding the comment, Landis tells ESPN radio host Sarah Spain that the interviews in the documentary were done a few years ago and Armstrong might have changed his feelings since then, now that he's been going through psychotherapy.
"I have some empathy for him because I went through some real public humiliation and it hurts. You want to blame somebody and sometimes it's easier to find the most obvious thing or person and blame them. He can blame me - maybe it would still be a secret if it wasn't for me," Landis says, adding that he couldn't take the lying about doping anymore.
"I couldn't manage it anymore. I had to come clean. He's obviously not happy about that. I hope he finds some peace in his life. I don't have any further animosity towards him."
Justifying his decision to take the case to the US federal government - which Armstrong settled in 2018 for $5 million, Landis said he knew he had to come at Armstrong with as much as he could.
"I wasn't sure if anyone would believe me and I figured you know Lance's approach to life is nothing succeeds like excess right? He's a Hunter S Thompson fan... So if you fight a guy like that you got to fight with everything you can get.
"So I figured, I need some people with some real muscle on my side. ... I did know that the federal government would probably be more likely to look into it."
They indeed looked into the case, with Landis taking home a $1.65 million chunk of the settlement and put most of the money into running the Floyds Pro Cycling team last year.
Landis admitted that his whistleblowing still causes him some anxiety. "A lot of time has passed and it should just be fine, but it's still just kind of I don't know. It was a very traumatic experience for me - that level of public humiliation was very hard on me."
When asked if he had a chance to sit down and talk to Armstrong, what he would say, Landis said, "I don't even know where I would start. I mean, I guess in the scenario where he's kind of moved on at least for the most part similar to the way I have it wasn't just anger directed at me. I am one of the few people that can relate directly to what he went through and I think might be might be cathartic to talk about it.
"Honestly, I don't think he'll think there's a high probability of that."
Landis went on to call Armstrong "an extraordinarily good athlete and the best cyclist that I ever raced with" and "a standout even among the elite cyclists". "We all have some flaws and obviously his got aired out more than anybody would want but he was he was not like everyone else," Landis said.
"I'd never expect the world to be able to put themselves in my shoes or Lance's shoes, but there's a lot more to it than just one bad guy that got a bunch of other people to dope and was kind of mean. It's complicated: Lance was also a kid one time and had dreams of racing his bike and didn't realize probably what he was walking into."
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By Josh Croxton