Just hours before the kickoff of the 2010 Tour de France, the Wall Street Journal released a story that gives more details of Floyd Landis’ allegations that Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team that both men raced for were involved in doping practices during the last decade.
Landis told the Wall Street Journal that Armstrong taught him about EPO, testosterone patches and blood doping, and that the pair and other Postal riders doped in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Early Saturday, Armstrong released a statement through his publicist, characterizing the story as being “full of false accusations and more of the same old news from Floyd Landis, a person with zero credibility and an established pattern of recanting tomorrow what he swears to today.”
Armstrong described Landis’ charges as “baseless and already-discredited” and likened his accuser’s credibility to “a carton of sour milk: once you take the first sip, you don’t have to drink the rest to know it has all gone bad.”
Armstrong said he would not comment further on the allegations because “I have too much work to do during this, my final Tour, and then after my retirement in my continued fight against cancer, to add any attention to this predictable pre-Tour sensationalism.”
Federal officials in the U.S., however, have taken note of the allegations and two top figures in the BALCO case – FDA investigator Jeff Novitzky and assistant U.S. attorney Doug Miller – have been assigned to the case. Several former Postal and Discovery riders have already been questioned by investigators.
Landis told the Wall Street Journal that when he moved to Phonak in 2005, he continued doping on his own, hiring a Spanish doctor to assist him.
Landis said that, before the 2006 season, Phonak team owner Andy Rihs agreed to finance a doping program in the hopes of winning the Tour de France. Rihs denied the allegations.
The Wall Street Journal, in a separate story, also reviews Landis’ claim that U.S. Postal Service team director Johan Bruyneel sold as many as 60 team bikes to finance a doping program. Bruyneel denied the claims, but Trek’s general counsel Robert Burns acknowledged to the Wall Street Journal that the bike maker had noticed that some of the bikes meant for the team had been sold.
Two former U.S. Postal Service riders were quoted in the WSJ stories — Chad Gerlach, in the main story, “Blood Brothers,” on doping, and David Clinger in the side story, “The Case of the Missing Bikes.” The paper states three unnamed former U.S. Postal riders said “there was doping on the team during the time Mr. Armstrong was its lead rider, and one of them admitted that he himself had doped. Several other riders said they had never observed such activity during their time with the team.”
Gerlach, who rode with U.S. Postal before Armstrong and Landis, was quoted as saying he believed Landis’ account of widespread doping. “I believe it because I have seen it personally,” he said. “I am not ready to out my friends or provide names. I just saw it. It’s just a systematic thing.”
In “Blood Brothers,” Landis told the Wall Street Journal that he felt frustrated when he was caught and punished for doping, and that his exclusion, post-suspension, from the Amgen Tour of California was the last straw.
“I felt the punishment I received for what had happened was unfair, especially considering the magnitude of the problem and the people who were never punished,” Landis said.