May 20th, 2010
07:54 AM ET

Reports: Cyclist Floyd Landis admits to doping

Editor's note: Listen to what Landis says at 2:01 into the interview when Larry King asks him whether he doped.

Cyclist Floyd Landis has acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career after disputing for years a positive doping test result that led to his suspension from the sport, two news organizations reported Thursday.

Landis also sent e-mails saying that other cyclists have used performance-enhancing drugs, including Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist and seven-time Tour de France winner, one of the news outlets reported. Armstrong has repeatedly denied taking such drugs.

ESPN.com reported that Landis said in an interview that he consistently used the red blood cell booster erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO, along with testosterone and the human growth hormone and that he received frequent blood transfusions.

He also used female hormones and, once, insulin, ESPN.com reported. He is coming forward now because years of deceit have taken a toll on him, the site quoted him as saying.

Landis sent e-mails to cycling and anti-doping officials recently that implicate dozens of other athletes in such activities, ESPN.com and The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported it had seen three of the e-mails, dated between April 30 and May 6, and that officials with USA Cycling and the International Cycling Union were copied on them.

Three people who have seen the e-mails and spoken with Landis about them confirmed their authenticity, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal said Armstrong was among those implicated in the e-mails. Armstrong did not respond to messages seeking comment from The Wall Street Journal. The New York Times reported Armstrong would speak before the start of Thursday's stage of the Tour of California race.

Landis spent as much as $90,000 a year on performance-enhancing drugs and consultants to help him build a training regime, ESPN.com reported.

However, he still maintains that the 2006 positive test result for synthetic testosterone at the Tour de France was inaccurate, saying he did not use synthetic testosterone that season, although he did use human growth hormone during that time, ESPN.com reported.

"There must be some other explanation, whether it was done wrong or I don't know what," Landis said, according to ESPN.com.

"The problem I have with even bothering to argue it is [that] I have used testosterone in the past and I have used it in other Tours, and it's going to sound kind of foolish to say I didn't."

He told the website he has spent an estimated $2 million battling the test result, which caused him to be stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win and to be suspended from cycling for two years.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in an April 30 e-mail to Stephen Johnson, president of USA Cycling, Landis claimed that Armstrong's longtime coach introduced Landis to using steroid patches, blood doping and human growth hormone in 2002 and 2003, during Landis' first two years on the U.S. Postal Service team.

Armstrong helped him understand the way the drugs worked, Landis wrote, according to The Wall Street Journal. "He and I had lengthy discussions about it on our training rides, during which time he also explained to me the evolution of EPO testing and how transfusions were now necessary due to the inconvenience of the new test," the Journal quoted the e-mail as saying. Attempts by the newspaper to seek comment from Johnson were unsuccessful.

Landis wrote that Armstrong's coach taught him to use synthetic EPO and steroids and how to carry out blood transfusions that doping officials wouldn't be able to detect, the Wall Street Journal said. He said that after breaking his hip in 2003, he flew to Spain and had two half-liter units of blood taken from his body in three-week intervals to be used during the Tour de France.

The extractions took place in Armstrong's apartment, Landis wrote, and blood bags belonging to Armstrong and a teammate were kept in a refrigerator in Armstrong's closet, the Wall Street Journal said. Landis said he was asked to check the temperature of the blood daily, and when Armstrong left for a few weeks, he asked Landis to make sure the electricity didn't go off and ruin the blood, the newspaper said.

Armstrong has denied taking performance-enhancing drugs.

"Look, I've done this a long time, and I've been at the highest level now since 1992 until 2009," he told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta last July, shortly after placing third in the Tour de France. "I've been tested more than anybody else.

"If I can take four years off and come back at the age of 38 with more controls than anyone else on planet Earth and get third place in the hardest sporting event in the world, I think we've answered the question."

Landis told ESPN.com that he realizes his credibility is questionable and that he has no documentation for many of the claims he is making about other riders or officials and it is his word against theirs.

"I want to clear my conscience," Landis told the website. "I don't want to be part of the problem anymore. With the benefit of hindsight and a somewhat different perspective, I made some misjudgments. And of course, I can sit here and say all day long, 'If I could do it again I'd do something different,' but I just don't have that choice."

ESPN.com also quoted Landis as saying, "I don't feel guilty at all about having doped. I did what I did because that's what we (cyclists) did and it was a choice I had to make after 10 years or 12 years of hard work to get there; and that was a decision I had to make to make the next step. My choices were, do it and see if I can win, or don't do it ... and I decided to do it."

He told ESPN.com he never felt forced or threatened to use performance-enhancing drugs. He said his first use was in June 2002, when he was a member of the U.S. Postal Service team. He said the fact that the World Doping Agency's statue of limitations for doping offenses is eight years factored into his motivation for coming forward.

He said he has saved his records, journals and diaries and has offered, in meetings with U.S. anti-doping authorities, to share them, ESPN.com said.

In the e-mails, Landis writes that current anti-doping efforts are "a charade," The Wall Street Journal said. He also detailed how to use EPO and avoid detection and claims he helped other teammates take the substance before a Tour of California race, the newspaper said.

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soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    He's a cyclist. It's to be expected.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Cat5mark

      Cyclists are not only the most drug tested athletes in the world, they are tested for more types of drugs than any other athlete/organization. If the top three american sports were tested to the rigor of the UCI mandates, all three would be devastated and I bet few of the current starts would be left standing. For example, cortizone cream is banned, you have to request an exemption if you need it for bug bites or skin rash. Let alone all that stuff you can get at GNC and other stores.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Schweitzer

      There were a few legit cyclists, of which Greg Lemond was one, that did not cheat, and had their careers end early because they could no longer compete against the cheaters. How many great athletes had careers cut short by the cheaters?

      May 20, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Greg Matusky

    Wow! This could be devastating to Armstrong. Let's hope this help to end a sad era in cycling.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Scrotie McMuffin

      um... how could this ever possibly affect armstrong? while cycling is a team sport, doping is entirely individual. thus, this has absolutely nothing to do with armstrong. terrible response.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      @Scrotie: Armstrong is one of the people Landis tried to implicate in his "confession". It doesn't appear in this story, but has been reported in other outlets.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      Frank Andreau, Roberto Heras, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis all former members of the US Postal team with Lance and all admitted dopers. Don't forget that there is a rider on the current Radio Shack team that has tested positive.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • 44

      Scrotum McMuffin. Armstrong will be affected because he's a doper too and surely his name will be in future reports. Sit back, watch and enjoy the ride.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. MP

    Well, I've been giving him the benefit of the doubt all this time, but I guess this removes the doubt. Although you're not supposed to be required to *prove* innocence, it's nice if you can. Can anyone thing of *any* sports doping scandal where the athlete in question was actually proved innocent?

    May 20, 2010 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      No suspect has every proven they had not used any PEDs once charged by the USADA. It is one of the few places where the burden of proof is on the suspect. And once you have been charged that albatros hangs around your neck forever.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. yeti37

    I still don't think he did it....

    May 20, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. New Yorker

    Landis is a loser

    May 20, 2010 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. michael

    Floyd was on Lance's postal team.... Not shocked if everyone did it.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. budhaboy

    I am with yeti37. Floyd is a stange character. Who knows what he is up to, but I don;t believe what he is saying.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. JackT

    The guy got caught cheating and now wants to bring down others. He should just take his medicine and shut up. Must be the estrogen injections making him do this. He's a Bit*h!!

    May 20, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Nyna

      Now that's THE stupid comment of the day. Look at you...trying to find a way to place blame elsewhere...on women. It's actually testosterone that makes women...and men...irritable.

      Though I do agree...make your own confessions, take your own consequences.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • david

      I agree, Landis is a coward. I have mixed feelings about him implicating others but it looks like he's just an a$$ and is more focused on shifting blame than accepting responsibility.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sam

    So Floyd, why the change of heart, why did you decide to "come clean" now? Why didn't you admit it when first charged? And what prompted you to take down others with you when doing it? There is more to this than reported here, I'm sure.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Is he selling a book?

      May 20, 2010 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. tyrdofit

    Uh Oh! Another doper in cycling?

    The sport's going the way of professional boxing in that fans can no longer trust the outcomes of the races.

    Is Don King involved somehow?

    May 20, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. GD

    Should this be a surprise? We've been saying this all along about him AND Lance Armstrong. They keep denying it and then one day they admit it and it's all OK now? These losers should be stripped of every medal they've ever won because of doping.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Del

    Cyclist are no more drug users than any other athlete in any other sport looking for a win at any cost. It's just a shame than he has undone all the hard work Lance put into making cycling recognizable in the US. The pressure comes from us, the spectators and sponsors. Do you want to see clean, healthy, and normal athletes or do you want huge, fast, and unbelievable athletes?

    May 20, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • tyrdofit

      Neither, I will take a "pole dancing" miss USA though!

      May 20, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    Landis says that Armstrong did it too...

    May 20, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. AYKM

    Although cycling is not the traditional team sport there is still the character and integrity issues to be discussed. Just like in baseball or football or any other sport you must play by the rules which include no doping. One is not considered a true "champion" if one is doping because you are not on a level playing field with everyone else and using ONLY your talent and spirit and character. You are just another wannabe in my opinion.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. justaguy

    Cycling will never get rid of doping. It's a beautiful sport that is unbelievably brutal, with the longest season of any professional sport. People here in the US think they are in shape because they get on their bikes and coast down to the Dairy Queen. Clueless. A human cannot compete at the level of a pro cyclist racing the european calendar without dope of some type.

    Doping in cycling has one benefit: It keeps the prying, sanctimonious eyes from looking at MLB and the NFL. More dope there than in Columbia, huh?

    May 20, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
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