Michael Barry (Team Sky) has strongly denied allegations leveled against him by Floyd Landis that he took performance-enhancing products and discussed doping practices prior to the 2003 Vuelta a España.
Barry’s name was mentioned in an e-mail sent to USA Cycling highlighting Landis’s personal doping practices as well as leveling accusations against many former teammates.
An emotional Barry spoke to VeloNews and another journalist before the start of Friday’s 13th stage at the Giro d’Italia. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Michael, what was your initial reaction when you heard about what Landis said?
Michael Barry: Pretty shocking. I found out just before the stage yesterday, and, obviously, I was stunned, the stories aren’t true.
Are you shocked that you were mentioned?
MB: For sure, when you see false allegations like that, it is pretty shocking. I was thinking about it during the race quite a bit, it is traumatic, really.
If it’s not true, why would Landis do that?
MB: I don’t know. I have not spoken with him in several years. I said hello to him at the Tour of California last year.
What has been the reaction from Team Sky?
MB: They have been supportive. The last few years, I have raced with teams with anti-doping stances, and throughout my career I have had a strong anti-doping stance and for clean sport. That was the one big reason I decided to come to Sky. They looked at all the biological passports of the riders. They are contributing to moving the sport in the right direction and that has always been important to me.
What did you tell team manager Dave Brailsford last night?
MB: They just wanted to know my side of the story, that was it. They have faith in me, that is why they hired me.
Will you continue in the Giro?
MB: Yes, for sure. There is no reason not to.
What’s been the reaction from your family and friends?
MB: It is very supportive. It is amazing. My BlackBerry is getting trashed with e-mails. It is just buzzing non-stop. I have had a lot of support from friends and I think everybody is really surprised to see my name in there. It’s been great to have that support. It is a difficult time for my wife and family.
So the team has rallied to support you?
MB: For sure. We have a good group of guys here. You can see it the way we’ve been racing since the start. We stick to plan, the morale is always good at the dinner table.
What can you do to fight this?
MB: State my innocence, the story’s untrue. That’s it. I think Lance made a ton of statements yesterday. I have not been in contact with Floyd, so I don’t know where this is coming from. It is frustrating.
Are you surprised about what he said?
MB: Who knows what to know? He has lied and denied things. I don’t know where he is mentally at right now.
Landis said you trained before the 2003 Vuelta and talked about doping products?
MB: I did train with him for two days. When we were in Girona, I trained with him very little when we were racing for U.S. Postal. Prior to the Vuelta, he was staying up in the mountains and I drove up there with my wife and rode with him for six hours one day and two hours the next day. And then we drove back home. That was it.