It seems that yet another sport has a new tattletale when it comes to doping. Baseball’s poster-boy turned ousted doper turned activitist for cleaing up the sport, José Canseco, has had a long and public battle with steroid accusations followed by a less than graceful turn of the tables as he continually points the blame finger at others. It’s safe to say that Canseco’s once stellar esteem and reputation will never be restored due to the whole debacle. Now the same can be said of Floyd Landis.
Landis, who became the first cyclist to ever have a Tour de France victory stripped for doping allegations, has been at the middle of a long and expensive battle ever since his 2006 blood tests showed allevated testosterone levels. Landis has repeatedly and vehemently denied all allegations and has attempted time and time again to disprove the postive drug tests. Apparently, he has recently had a change of heart (and motivation?).
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Landis has admitted to not only using illegal substances to help him win the 93rd Tour, but had followed a regular regime of doping since his professional cycling debut in 2002. Landis has sent repeated emails to several parties, including officials of USA Cycling, the International Cycling Union, and anti-doping agencies. In the bodies of these emails, Landis has also accused former teammates and coaches of being involved with the doping schemes, including 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Armstrong has been repeatedly accused of doping over the past decade but has yet to have any of these allegations proved.
Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, has called Landis’ motives into question by stating, “What’s his agenda? The guy is seeking revenge. It’s sad, it’s sad for cycling. It’s obvious he does hold a grudge.” and that the allegations in the email correspondances were “nothing new.”
Landis has said the emails were sent to clear his conscience and that he doesn’t “want to be part of the problem any more.” When asked about the timing, Landis referred to cycling’s 8-year statute of limitations and that waiting any longer would not prove useful.
Whether or not these allegations will ever be proved is yet to be seen. Canseco has actually gained credibility over the years (although many will still deny it) as more and more of the baseball players he implicated have come clean about their illegal substance (ab)use. It will now be a matter of waiting to see if the same can ever be said of Landis.
As a cycling fan, particularly around the Tour de France, and having grown up just a few miles from Landis’ hometown, I have taken a certain interest in this whole mess. I will admit that I supported Landis and firmly believed he was wrongly stripped of his Tour victory. It just seemed odd that the only positive test result was taken after he had a huge stage win to reclaim the maillot jaune. At the time, no other postive test was ever confirmed for Landis. As it appears now, however, I was very wrong to believe him. I can’t say I’m shocked and perplexed, but I am certainly disappointed. I guess it just goes to show that everyone is human and you can never be too sure who the good guys really are.