Disgraced cyclist Landis says he waited too long to admit to doping, wants more to join him

By Neil Frankland, AP
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Landis says he waited too long to own up to doping

MELBOURNE, Australia — Disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis says he waited almost four years to reveal his doping because he knew once he’d admitted lying, he would not be believed about the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport.

After years of denials, Landis — stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title because of doping — admitted in May to using performance-enhancing drugs and accused others, including former teammate and seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, of doping. Armstrong has vehemently denied the accusations and his attorney has described Landis as a “serial liar.”

Landis, speaking at an Australian conference on the eve of the road cycling world championships, said Tuesday that until more people come forward, cycling will continue to have a problem with drug cheats.

“Until I can sit here, and a lot of other people can sit down and talk about how it came to be that way, it’s going to be hard to find a solution,” he said. “If I can be a catalyst for that, so be it. I don’t care to take any credit for it because part of why I’m doing what I’m doing is for my own conscience and my own well being.

“As much as it hurts to sit and tell my mom I lied, and to tell other people that I lied, it’s better than the alternative.”

The American acknowledged he waited too long before coming clean.

“I knew that having defended myself in the beginning, and having lied about never having doped, that no matter when I changed the story and no matter when I I decided to tell the details of what I’d done, the argument was always going to be the same. It was going to be that I shouldn’t be believed now,” Landis said.

“It took me longer than it probably should have.”

Landis’ allegations prompted an ongoing and wide-ranging U.S. federal probe centering on Armstrong and his associates. The investigation is being pursued by U.S. prosecutors and Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky.

Landis said doping was endemic in cycling when he was caught.

“There were plenty of good people in cycling who made the same decisions I did,” he said. “And it was never their intention to cheat anybody. It was never their intention to hurt anybody, it’s just that it was so commonplace that you could rationalize it in your mind that you weren’t hurting anybody.”

A federal grand jury sitting in Los Angeles has been hearing evidence in its doping probe, and investigators have contacted American riders, sponsors and associates of Armstrong.

“I really didn’t want to put anyone else through (what I went through after being caught),” Landis said. “It was an unpleasant experience to say the least. And even to this day I wish there was a way to tell the truth without getting anyone else involved.

“I can say first hand, leaving me out of it or whatever anyone’s opinion is about me, there are good people in cycling that made the same decisions I made and there are people I don’t like who made the decisions I made.”

Landis’ involvement in the New Pathways for Pro Cycling conference held by Deakin University at Geelong, west of Melbourne, was met with intense criticism from the world championships organizers, who withdrew their support for the event.

At the time, Landis said he hoped to participate in the conference so he could be a “catalyst for positive change.”

Landis was circumspect throughout his participation during a 90-minute panel session alongside international academics and anti-doping experts. After the conference he declined to speak about specific incidents or riders, and would not comment on the ongoing investigation.

Landis is not accredited for the championships, but says he will be watching the races.

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