If the UCI’s legal proceedings against Floyd Landis ever amount to anything, the former pro cyclist may now have a high-profile ally in WADA Director General David Howman.
Howman recently made statements to the media that seem to tacitly support allegations that Landis made in 2010 to German television regarding the UCI’s purported failure to pursue action against riders it knew to have committed doping violations — among them Lance Armstrong, who has always vehemently denied using banned performance enhancers.
Likewise, UCI chief Pat McQuaid has strongly rejected Landis’s charges, going so far as to bring the aforementioned defamation suit against him, joined by former UCI chief Hein Verbruggen and the UCI.
But Howman, speaking to Daniel Benson of Cyclingnews.com, said it “was possible” that the UCI looked the other way during the era that preceded the World Anti-Doping Code. While not a full-throated indictment, the WADA chief’s statements are startling nonetheless.
Landis, who recently took part in a benefit for the Century Road Club Association’s Junior Development Team, responded by e-mail to Howman’s comments and other current stories concerning the role of doping in the sport.
VeloNews: What’s your take on David Howman’s recent comments about the statements you’ve made about the UCI protecting certain people? Why has it taken him so long to back your position?
Floyd Landis: Unfortunately it took the risk of the facts coming to light to get the president of WADA to admit what they’ve known all along. Unfortunately he continues to maintain that they have done a reasonable job of synchronizing the anti-doping rules between labs and federations when he knows without a doubt that it has been a complete failure. Until WADA admits they’ve failed they’ll never be in a position to make progress.
VN: Ivan Basso told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he doesn’t understand why he and other formerly sanctioned Italian riders aren’t being allowed to ride at nationals and worlds. The reasons may be obvious to the rest of us, but do you think that the Italian federation’s ruling is fair?
FL: There is absolutely no reason within the rules that all cyclists agree to why Basso cannot ride any event he wishes. If the rules are not enforced consistently what incentive does any athlete have to try to abide by that set of rules? The doping problem in cycling has not improved simply because those enforcing the rules are no more trustworthy than those they accuse of breaking them.
VN: Similarly, do you think the Alberto Contador case has been handled well and that whatever the outcome is once a decision is reached that it will be seen as “thorough?”
FL: I don’t have enough information to know what Contador did or didn’t do or what has gone on regarding the legal process. However, if there was any clenbuterol in the urine sample provided by him and he does not receive a two-year suspension from the last race he has participated in then we can all know for sure that the preferential treatment that Lance Armstrong received continues with Contador and that there is no way that WADA and CAS are capable of cleaning up cycling. They must follow the rules they’ve applied to less successful racers or risk all of what little credibility they have left.
VN: Do you think it’s a good idea for the sport to look at an alternative to the UCI calendar and create another league where the teams take part in revenue sharing?
FL: As long as the UCI is involved cycling will never make progress. The incentive of leaders like (Pat) McQuaid is to be promoted to the board of the IOC and not to make cycling what it can be. Cycling is a stepping stone when it deserves to be something to be aspired to.
VN: What’s more frightening, rounding a NASCAR track at near 200 mph or descending a mountain on a road bike at 60-plus mph?
FL: I’m not afraid of anything.
VN: Can you list a few things you would you like to find in your holiday stocking this year and why?
FL: A time machine.