The stunning accusations came in a strongly-worded letter Landis wrote to cycling officials April 30, where he described how the U.S. Postal Service team (which Armstrong and Landis were teammates on) devised a systematic way of flouting drug tests from 2002 to 2005 while using banned substances to boost performance, such as blood transfusions and testerone patches and injections.
In the letter, Landis, 34, says teammates, cycling officials and doctors all contributed to a shocking culture of drug use.
Floyd alleges he was first introduced to testosterone by team manager Johan Bruyneel (a longtime friend to Lance Armstrong and currently the manager of Armstrong’s Radio Shack team) while riding for US Postal in 2002.
Landis says he and teammate Lance had many discussions about doping, specifically the use of the red blood cell booster erythropoietin (EPO).
Floyd recounts one instance in 2004 when the team bus was heading to the hotel after a race, but stopped over on the way for blood transfusions to boost the riders’ oxygen capacity. Landis wrote in an email to USA Cycling:
The driver pretended to have engine trouble and stopped on a remote mountain road for an hour or so so the entire team could have half a liter of blood added. This was the only time that I ever saw the entire team being transfused in plain view of all the other riders and bus driver.”
There are many many more details that I have in diaries and am in the process of writing into an intelligible story.
Armstrong, 39, has long been the target of doping allegations, but has vehemently denied all charges over the years, saying his past as a cancer survivor makes him all the more careful about using any kind of drug.
Lance, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, has also repeatedly pointed out that he has never failed a drug test, but the doping rumors have persisted over the years nonetheless.
In 2006, Landis — who was once a close friend of Armstrong — vigorously denied doping after having failed a drug test that year and being stripped of his Tour de France win. Floyd even went as far as to write a book entitled Positively False, where he strongly disputed his positive drug results and asked for donations so he could wage a costly legal campaign to overturn his ban and clear his name.
At this point, it’s unclear what will come out of Landis’ allegations, but it’s possible that anti-doping officials could open an investigation into Armstrong and his teammates and, if they can prove fault, move toward reclaiming the titles and awards those cyclists won.
News of Landis’ letter was first reported by Cyclingnews.com.
I think it’s pretty clear that it calls into question Lance Armstrong’s credibility,” says Joe Papp, a ex-cyclist who was banned for doping, told Cyclingnews. “I don’t think Lance Armstrong or the Lance Armstrong myth will ever be the same.”
In October 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain.
Lance, who underwent chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancer, was given less than a 50% chance of survival when he was first diagnosed in 1996. He has been cancer-free for the past 14 years.
Armstrong’s improbable comeback from cancer patient to seven-time Tour de France champion is one of the most inspiring stories in all of sports. The Texas-born cycling phenom rebounded from the disease to win an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France titles, from 1999 to 2005.