The cycling world woke up to a rude jolt this morning with the news that Floyd Landis has admitted to using EPO, testosterone, human-growth hormone, and other doping products from 2002 through to the 2006 Tour de France victory he was stripped of after testing positive for testosterone. He has also implicated others, including Lance Armstrong.
According to reports in both the Wall Street Journal and on cyclingnews.com, Landis made the claims about three weeks ago in a series of emails to cycling officials. Cyclingnews.com obtained a copy of an email to USA Cycling and says that in it, Landis claims to have been introduced to EPO in 2002 by Johan Bruyneel and instructed in its use by Armstrong. Neither Bruyneel or Armstrong has responded to the allegations yet, but that's sure to change in the next few hours. Both are at the Tour of California with Team RadioShack.
As for the timing of the allegations—after Landis spent several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting his Tour de France test and even set up the Floyd Fairness Fund to solicited donations for his defense—cyclingnews.com quotes Landis as saying, "Now we've come to the point where the statute of limitations on the things I know is going to run out or start to run out next month. If I don't say something now then it's pointless to ever say it."
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) issued a statement earlier today saying that it will launch a full investigation into the Landis claims, which also reportedly implicate fellow American riders Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie.
“WADA is aware of the serious allegations made by Mr Landis. We are very interested in learning more about this matter and we will liaise with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and any other authority with appropriate jurisdiction to get to the heart of the issues raised. WADA looks forward to these further investigations and enquiries by those responsible."
It should be noted that all of Landis' reported claims are about events that happened years ago, before cycling's international governing body, the UCI, instituted a new system of doping controls, called the biological passport, that are the strictest in professional sports. The new system has been credited with largely cleaning up the sport, as reflected by the unpredictable nature, new winners, and tamer speeds of recent seasons.
The UCI said in a statement this morning that it "regrets that Mr Landis has publicly accused individuals without allowing sufficient time for the relevant US authorities to investigate. An impartial investigation is a fundamental right, as Mr Landis will understand having contested, for two years, the evidence of his breach of the Anti-Doping Rules in 2006."
After laying out his years-old claims against some of the biggest names in cycling, Landis, in an interview with ESPN.com, once again claimed that his 2006 positive for synthetic testosterone was an error. Though he admits in the interview to having used testosterone in the past, he claims he didn't use it at all during the 2006 season.
"There must be some other explanation, whether it was done wrong or I don't know what," he told ESPN.com. "You can try to write it however you want -- the problem I have with even bothering to argue it is [that] I have used testosterone in the past and I have used it in other Tours, and it's going to sound kind of foolish to say I didn't."
More on this one as it unfolds.