Floyd Landis was in Los Angeles for the time trial stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Saturday, making his first public appearance since he confessed to doping and accused many of his former teammates.
Landis was a guest at the VIP tent paid for by sponsor and close friend Dr Brent Kay. He arrived late into the time trial and was protected by four security guards wearing bulletproof vests, who tried to block media taking photographs of Landis. He refused to speak to the media.
According to the Associated Press, a member of the public shouted: "Floyd, you suck," but Landis seemed relaxed and relieved to have finally spoken out.
He spent most of his time talking to guests in the OUCH tent and showed little interest in the race, although he did turn to watch some of the riders he had accused as they rode the final lap of the course. A few minutes after the time trial finished, Landis slipped out of the back of the OUCH VIP tent. He again refused to answer questions and was driven away.
Some of the people Landis has accused of doping and used to be close friends were surprised to hear he was in Los Angeles.
“He’s here, really?” Zabriskie told the New York Times after he finished third in the time trial. “Tell him I said hi. How’s he doing?”
After finishing fourth in the time trial, Levi Leipheimer spoke about Landis' accusation for the first time to the Los Angeles Times. "This isn't new to us," he said. "We knew something was coming. To be honest, I'm not worried about it. And, no, I have nothing to say."
Jim Ochowicz, the Team BMC Racing president told the New York Times, “Everybody’s free to do whatever they want; it’s a free country. I haven’t had contact with Floyd in a long time. I feel sorry for him.”
Ochowicz refused to say if he had been contacted by anti-doping officials or FDA agents but told the New York Times that “Anybody would be nervous about something like that.”
In an article written in the Sunday Times newspaper, David Walsh reiterated claims already made by the Wall Street Journal, that special agent Jeff Novitzky is investigating the case. Walsh also writes that Landis and Armstrong's ex-wife Kristin are understood to be co-operating.
Stapleton calls on people to look to the future, not the past
Landis' presence at the Amgen Tour of California somewhat overshadowed the actual racing. Tony Martin's stage victory and Michael Rogers' defense of the overall race lead made it a great day for HTC-Columbia, yet most media reports focused on Landis.
HTC-Columbia team owner Bob Stapleton offered support to Landis but called on people to look forward and move on from the past.
"I have tons of sympathy for Floyd," Stapleton told ESPN. "I don't think anybody has suffered more who's been involved in a situation like this. It's destroyed his entire life. He has my sympathy, but I don't want him to take the focus off the good work that's been done in this sport and by these young athletes."
"He's increased the audience, but he's ruined the message. The message is this sport is part of a healthy lifestyle for 160 million people in the U.S. and Europe alone. He's talking about the history of the sport, but this sport has a good future and it's in the Tony Martins and the Mark Cavendishs and the Tyler Farrars, the guys who are growing up in a different generation of the sport. This sport has made remarkable, objective progress since Floyd Landis."
Lemond forgives Landis
Greg Lemond has also offered further support to Landis, confirming that Landis called him on Friday to apologise for the incident in 2007, when he received an anonymous phone call threatening to reveal that Lemond had been sexually molested as a child. Lemond revealed the threat while giving evidence at Landis' USADA hearing and the call was traced to Landis' manager at the time, Will Geoghegan.
Lemond told ESPN, "I did have a conversation with Floyd and he did apologize for his treatment of me before and after the 2007 hearings."
"I accepted his apology, but that isn't really what's important. Sincere apologies are for those that make them, not for those to whom they are made. I hope that as a result Floyd can begin rebuilding his life."
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