Landis describes alleged US Postal Service doping incident during 2004 Tour
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Landis describes alleged US Postal Service doping incident during 2004 Tour

by Shane Stokes at 3:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
American accuses McQuaid and Verbruggen of corruption, raises doubts about Contador’s innocence

Floyd LandisAmerican rider Floyd Landis has remained silent for months about the doping allegations he previously made against the US Postal Service team, but he has dramatically reversed that position today by speaking to two separate TV stations and making some explosive claims.

The 35 year old first talked to the German channel ARD, then gave another interview to the French Stade 2 television. In the latter interview, he reiterated his claims of systematic doping against Lance Armstrong and the USPS team. He said that the multiple Tour winner was a regular user of banned products, EPO and blood transfusions.

He also spoke about a specific incident when he alleges a transfusion involving several riders was carried out on the morning of the first Alpine stage in the 2004 Tour de France. That took the riders 180 kilometres from Valreas to Villard de Lans, saw a long-distance attack by Jan Ullrich and was ultimately won by Armstrong.

“The team had a well-organised blood-doping program, and used other products so that our levels remained normal. You can use the word systematic.”

“There was always a way to invoke a problem with the bus, others could not see inside. You need a few people, as well as the doctors, as in the bus there were nine [riders] to have it done [the transfusion] to at the same time. A transfusion takes about fifteen minutes. When you reach this point, it’s something in common [with the riders]. It was routine, there was no debate to be made, we all knew we would do it. It was part of the job, it was a trivial thing.”

In the interview with the German TV station ARD, he gave what he said was the reason why the team never encountered problems: namely, that things were covered up and its riders were shielded.

“In the peloton, everyone knows that Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen and other leaders of the UCI protected some riders and not others during the past 20 years. It was their way of manipulating and creating stars,” he claimed.

According to Landis, he said it was not just Armstrong who utilised doping substances and methods. “All those – and I include myself in that – who took part in races won by Lance did it.”

Landis made his initial claims against the team earlier this year. He communicated with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), USA Cycling, the UCI and others with his allegations of widespread doping on the USPS team and other squads.

This synced with an ongoing investigation into the Rock Racing team, leading to a much bigger enquiry which has continued for many months. It is being led by federal investigation Jeff Novitizky, who was part of a delegation which went to France earlier this month and met with anti-doping officials and police representatives from France, Italy and Belgium. USADA chief Travis Tagart and federal prosecutor Doug Miller also accompanied Novitzky.

An unconfirmed number of witnesses have been called to appear before a Grand Jury as a result of Landis’ claims, including previous team-mates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton, physiologist Alan Lim and others. Armstrong’s ex-wife Kristin is also rumoured to have spoken to investigators.

Landis also cast doubt today on the claims of innocence of Alberto Contador, who is currently fighting a doping case involving the substance Clenbuterol. It can be used to shed body fat and build lean muscle and was, according to an unnamed source from Contador’s 2010 team Astana, used to ensure he was at the correct weight for the 2010 Tour de France.

The Spaniard has insisted that the positive test came after he consumed contaminated meat: according to Landis, there’s another more likely explanation.

“I know that riders take Clenbuterol,” said the American. “The risk of being ‘caught’ is higher now than before, but this risk is still relatively small, because this substance has usually disappeared when by the time of the doping control.”

Landis knows that doubts will be cast on his claims by those who he has spoke against, but said that it doesn’t bother him. "You do not have to believe me,” he said. “I should not have lied the first time. I want cycling to improve. But it doesn’t matter to me if the world believes me or not.”

It has been reported that the USPS investigation is moving closer to completion; this suggests that in the months ahead, Landis will either be discredited or vindicated. If it is the latter, there will be some very far-reaching consequences for the sport.


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