In a very weird story, Floyd Landis suddenly charged the USADA (US Anti-doping Agency) with trying to make a deal with him, to out Lance Armstrong's steroid use. Story in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The LA Times also carries a story on the imbroglio. Landis doping case is soon to be heard at Pepperdine Univ.
“If I gave information that would incriminate Lance (Armstrong),” Landis said, “I would be given the shortest suspension they'd ever given an athlete.”
Landis, 31, said he “didn't think the offer justified a response” and proceeded with his defense against doping charges, which culminates in an arbitration hearing scheduled to begin Monday at Pepperdine University in Malibu. If he loses, Landis would be stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title and likely handed a two-year competition ban.
“I haven't spoken to Lance,” Landis said at a news conference yesterday about Armstrong, his former teammate and a seven-time Tour de France champion. “He knows very well how badly they've tried to take him down. For them to try to do harm to my reputation to get to Lance, which that conversation (with USADA) leads me to believe, I find that unacceptable.”
Weird in part, that the USADA would make such an offer to nail a famous, but retired cyclist. Weird in that any suspension would be limited to 1 month, if a 'Armstrong-outing' deal could be forged. Also weird in that Landis releases this information almost 10 months after the fact.
(From the Times) Landis made the revelation at a news conference in advance of public hearings scheduled to begin Monday at Pepperdine University in Malibu into his doping case. The American racer, who has denied guilt, said he has spent more than $1 million on his defense. He is accused of using testosterone as a doping agent during his championship run in last summer's Tour de France.
However, in light of the USADA's stance that penalties can be substantially reduced if a cyclist outs another competitor's PED use, maybe not so weird:
The World Anti-Doping Agency code allows for reduced sanctions if an athlete provides “substantial assistance” in “establishing an anti-doping rule violation by another person.” And USADA is known to routinely mention the WADA cooperation clause when it brings a doping sanction against an athlete.
Travis Tygart, the USADA counsel called the charges 'ridiculous':
USADA general counsel Travis Tygart, who Landis said made the offer to attorney Howard Jacobs, cited organization rules precluding him from commenting on a pending case.
“If Mr. Landis wants to waive the confidentiality agreement and allow USADA to comment,” Tygart said, “I'll be happy to address all of his ridiculous statements. Otherwise, I can't comment.”
In the the background of all this, is the text-message between two competitors, intimating that Landis, once Armstrong's teammate, knows about how Armstrong cheated using LEDs (ed note: we meant PEDs, but maybe there is a way to use LEDs):
One reason anti-doping authorities might think Landis had knowledge of illicit activity by Armstrong is an instant message between two former Armstrong teammates that surfaced a year ago. The instant message, between Jonathan Vaughters and Frankie Andreu in the summer of 2005, discusses alleged blood doping by Armstrong during the 2005 Tour de France. Vaughters and Landis are friends.
Vaughters allegedly wrote: yeah, i could describe the whole way lance dupes everyone . . . from how floyd described it, i know exactly the methos. (sic)
Andreu signed an affidavit vouching for the message's authenticity, but Armstrong's attorneys have discounted the veracity of its contents and Vaughters has called it “an exchange of second-or third-hand gossip.”
Yesterday Landis said: “Certainly, what was in it wasn't factual.”
USA Today reports Armstrong was not mentioned by name by the USADA:
Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's attorney, said he had heard that offers were made to Landis, "but no specific names were mentioned."
According to Rant, Lance Armstrong called a hasty press conferece (call):
Shortly after Landis’ press conference, Lance Armstrong spoke to reporters via a conference call. As Bonnie DeSimone reported at ESPN.com:
Armstrong, long dogged by unproven doping allegations, spoke to reporters on a hastily arranged conference call from Austin, Texas, shortly after Landis made his statements. While Armstrong expressed some weariness that the topic was rearing its head again two years after his retirement, he said he was neither surprised by the news nor irritated with Landis for revealing it.
“I think Floyd has to make a case for himself,” Armstrong said.
“This says a lot about USADA’s methods, their tactics and their confidence in their case. He has a scientific case to fight, but it’s also a case of ethics and morals. This makes USADA look petty.”
Armstrong said he was aware that USADA had approached Jacobs with a deal based on providing information about other athletes but did not know his name had been mentioned specifically.
“I think it’s absurd,” Armstrong said of the alleged attempt to solicit damaging information about him. “There’s nothing to find. They’ve looked everywhere and can’t find anything. The other thing I’ve said is that it will never go away.”
Landis also revealed he is suing WADA chief Dick Pound for defamation, according to Rant:
The other bombshell from the press conference is that Landis will be launching an ethical complaint with the IOC against Dick Pound for Pound’s behavior and comments related to his case. Michael Henson, Landis’ spokesman, cited Pound’s comments about Nazi frogmen in an Op-Ed piece published in a Canadian newspaper, along with his comments to the New York Times saying that Landis should have “been violating every virgin within 100 miles.” These kinds of statements show that Pound plays fast and loose with the facts, and that he makes flatly defamatory statements, despite WADA rules that require officials to refrain from commenting about on-going cases.
And thus, another day in the soap opera on steroids of the cycling world.