This most recent episode in the cycling soap opera that no one wants to watch came during an interview for ABC’s Nightline that is scheduled to air on Friday. In addition to repeating some of his previous accusations, including a charge that Armstrong personally gave him testosterone patches, Landis had some things to say about professional cycling in general.
Talking to Nightline’s Neal Karlinski, Landis said:
“Rather than go into the entire detail of every single time I’ve seen it, yes. I saw Lance Armstrong using drugs.
Landis was explicit in labeling Armstrong a cheater, and went on to address the question as to whether or not he considers the 7-time Tour De France-winner a fraud as well.
“Well, it depends on what your definition of fraud is. I mean it — look — if he didn’t win the Tour, someone else that was doped would have won the Tour. In every single one of those Tours.”
That’s quite an indictment on Armstrong the individual and on the sport he headlines. Of course, when weighing Landis’ remarks, one must consider the source. Landis is a convicted cheater, banned from cycling for illegal drug use. He has admitted using performance-enhancing substances. He had his own Tour de France victory taken away. He has perjured himself, exhausted his personal finances while waging a legal battle that he knew was a farce, and has sharply declined into little more than a noisy pariah.
That said, he could well be telling the truth this time. But as any child can tell you, cry wolf once too often and people stop believing you. Cycling is a sport plagued by illegal drug use. And Armstrong’s personal performance record is, in a word, incredible. So perhaps few of us would be surprised to discover truth behind Landis’ accusations.
The problem is that man himself has zero credibility. None. And every time he opens his mouth, he sounds like a sore loser. A cheat who got caught and wants company in his misery. Floyd Landis wants to tear down those around him to make himself seem like less of a sham.
But he also has no remorse over his foul play. As he once told ESPN:
“I don’t feel guilty at all about having doped. I did what I did because that’s what we [cyclists] did and it was a choice I had to make after 10 years or 12 years of hard work to get there, and that was a decision I had to make to make the next step. My choices were, do it and see if I can win, or don’t do it and I tell people I just don’t want to do that, and I decided to do it.”
For his part, Armstrong denied the allegations through his attorney, citing Landis’ sullied reputation.
Buried somewhere in those years of lies could be kernel of truth. But that truth needs to be conveyed by a vehicle more reliable than Landis. Until he has some proof to offer, Floyd needs to simply shut up.