A new year has dawned but the old problem of proving his innocence from a
doping charge surrounding his win at the 2006 Tour de France still hangs over
the head of Floyd Landis. We've been fortunate to have Floyd visit the DP
Forums frequently in the past, and this interview was a chance to ask him why he
showed up in the first place and how he sees his case shaping up. It was
indeed my extreme pleasure to interview the Tour Champion, and I know I am
joined by many DP regulars in wishing him well as he fights to clear his name
and secure his place in the cycling history books.
Cathy Mehl: Let's talk first about your presence in the forum.
I am assuming that you came to the Daily Peloton Forums for a purpose when you
first joined several months ago. Can you tell me what you saw in the
reader postings that made you think there was quality thinking going on?
Floyd Landis: Iíd read the forums and found myself getting frustrated by
the discussions at times. There were a lot of smart and interested people
arguing without all the facts, so I figured that Iíd say a few things and see if
I could give the people some information that you wouldnít know unless you went
through what Iím going through.
Cathy: You created quite a firestorm when you first began appearing.
I know you were healing from surgery and had a lot of time on your hands. You
seemed to be there a lot! What did you hope to accomplish by being in the forum?
Do you feel these goals were met? Will any of the science presented at DPF be
used in your case?
Floyd: Well, after the hip surgery I got a laptop and spent a lot of time
on the couch. Amber will only put up with me for so long, so I figured that Iíd
get what was in my head when reading the forum out into the debate. I wanted
people to hear my side of the story and not judge me based on rumors or on what
they read in the press. Thereís a lot that people donít know about how the
system works and about how unfair it can be to athletes. I think I was able to
get some of that across in the forums. When we made the documents public, we
wanted people to educate themselves in the test and see what they could add to
the case, good or bad. I donít know if any of the science used will be used in
the case, but I do know that guys like Duckstrap and Thomas Fine made some
really good arguments that support what (Dr.) Arnie (Baker) has been saying in
public. Chris T. always kept things interesting, too. It was good to see smart
people thinking about the documents we made public. Thatís one of the reasons
why we did it in the first place and called it the Wiki Defense.
All of this took place during a period where you were on the trainer but not
back on the bike. Now you are out on the road again and we donít hear from you
so much. Do you feel your needs from the forum have been met or did something
happen that made you not want to post much anymore? By the way I do have to say
your comments about preferring to ask Satan for advise before seeking advise
from Greg Lemond were some of the funniest things Iíve ever read!
Thanks, I guess! Greg was making damaging comments in the press without looking
at the facts of my case, so far as I know, and that didnít sit well with me.
Yeah, Iím out riding a couple of hours a day and am busy with all of the case
stuff otherwise, so I donít have as much time to sit on the laptop and chat in
the forum. I also feel that my presence in the forum started to become a bad
thing for the debate. Maybe itís an impossible thing to ask, but I just wanted
to be a part of the debate and make people think before they wrote something
down. I didnít want the whole thing to become about me being there rather than
about the case. When things started getting a little ugly in the forum, I wanted
to remove myself so that people would stop attacking one another and get back to
discussing the case.
If I personally were reading criticisms of myself or people bagging on my
character I would probably lose it, but youíve had to deal with that a lot since
July. How do you deal with the ones that state you are a cheater? What
resources do you draw upon to keep yourself on an even keel instead of going off
on a rant defending yourself? Do you ever feel like shouting from the
rooftops, ďLook at me! Iím not a cheater, and have never been one!Ē
Sometimes I do go off on rants, isnít that what the Lemond vs. Satan comment
was! Look, I know Iím innocent and I won the Tour de France clean. I know it,
Amber and Ryan know it, my friends know it and the people who are defending me
know it. People think and say a lot of things and donít think about what theyíre
saying or why theyíre saying it. And with how everything was reported in the
press in July and August, I donít blame people for thinking that Iím guilty. It
doesnít bother me as much anymore. What does bother me is how Iím being treated
by USADA, WADA and the UCI. There is nothing fair about how they are treating
me. They have called me guilty before I really even knew what it was I had been
accused of! Everyone else just bases their opinions off of what guys like Pound
and McQuaid say in the press. Thatís just bullshit and the whole system needs to
change. If thereís anything that makes me want to climb up to the roof and
shout, itís how the system has dealt with this.
Iím sure this is a position you never felt you would be in and have been
totally unprepared to deal with doping allegations. Yet you seem to have
educated yourself thoroughly now and are quite handy with the science of your
case. If you could remove the personal side of the case, have you surprised
yourself at what youíve been able to grasp and figure out and how deep into the
science youíve gone? Youíve said to me in the past, ďIím not that smartĒ but I
think we are seeing that indeed you are!
Apparently there are a lot of people out there who donít think Iím smart because
theyíre basically accusing me of being stupid. Iím a bike racer and thatís all I
ever wanted to do. Iíve been forced into this life that I never asked for and
now have to spend a lot of time with lawyers, scientists and PR people whose job
it is to know the ins and outs of the case. I also have to speak publicly about
these unsubstantiated charges. If Iím going to do that, and if Iím going to know
how to fight these allegations, I need to educate myself in the science. I know
more about testosterone than I ever wanted to, but I still donít know half as
much as the experts working on my case.
The recent LA Times article on the doping agencies and their one-track
method of protecting their image seems very disheartening to your case, or
anyone elseís, since the truth is not their main objective. Can you comment on
the article? Did you know it was being written? What was your
response to the article? Also a recent piece on Dick Pound had some ridiculous
quotes, stating you were known as "Roid Floyd" in the peloton. How do you deal?
The system is unfair. Pound is a loose cannon and likes seeing his name in the
press. How he became judge, jury and executioner Iím not sure, but he is the
perfect example of how the system makes it almost impossible for an athlete to
get a fair hearing. In America, rapists and murderers have more rights than
athletes accused of doping. If Pereiro and Sastre had mysteriously disappeared
after Stage 17 and I was accused of knocking them off in their sleep, Iíd have
more rights in an American court than I do now in this arbitration process. As
it stands, I donít see myself getting a fair hearing. "Roid Floyd." Glad
that Pound has taken up poetry as a hobby.
What elements of your case have upset you the most? Whether this be in the
science or the public perception.
How Iíve been treated, or mistreated, by the system is most upsetting to me.
Itís been hard to be tried in the court of public opinion without even having
the information to defend myself. That and the fact that theyíre building their
case against me on a foundation of flawed science and misconduct at the LNDD.
How can you ruin someoneís life on a test that has as many mistakes as this one!
Itís unbelievable to me and that makes me angry.
Many times when I have seen you on mainstream TV for interviews, the agenda
of the journalist comes shining through much more than what you are saying,
especially with TV pieces where they cut and edit much of what you say. Has all
of this been eye-opening to you about the media? Do you feel your message is
I feel that the message is getting out more now than it was and weíre working on
keeping it out there, but Iíve learned a lot about TV. The "Real Sports" (show)was
the perfect example. They could have done so much more with that piece and it
was just bad TV. And I was raised a Mennonite, so I can only imagine what people
who were raised watching TV thought!
You have talked about USADA delaying so long or fighting this so long with
you that you will eventually be out of money to continue the fight. The longer
they can keep you from riding the reality of that statement becomes more and
more clear. First, have any dates been set in Pepperdine yet? Obviously you
arenít earning a salary from a team right now, but is there any interest in you
from some of your former sponsors? Or have they had to back off from you? What
other avenues of earning power are you able to pursue right now? I know your
camp is coming up soon (http://www.floydlandis.com/camp/).
We donít have a date yet and we might not have one for a while. Some of the
sponsors like CycleOps and Speedplay have stuck by my side and thatís been good
for morale, at the very least.
What about a book deal on your life? Do you have a writer yet?
We have a new writer for the book. Itís Loren Mooney and I think that sheíll
do a great job with it.
Can you comment on the Floyd Fairness Fund? When will this be up and
running? Was it hard for you to ask for money? I presume this is something
that goes against your natural character or upbringing.
The Floyd Fairness Fund is being set up by Michael (Henson) and Brian
Rafferty and itís supposed to be up and running (around) January 3rd. I think
theyíve been working on the website and other background stuff for a few weeks.
Youíll have to ask them about the details, but there should be an official
announcement soon. The asking for money doesnít make me feel that comfortable
and it does go against my character, but I need help to fight this and to get a
fair hearing. Iím innocent and for the world to know that, this needs to be done
right. Itís not just about me, either, itís about fairness for other athletes
who find themselves in similar positions to mine and about changing the system.
The FFF is bigger than me and I hope that it will help others and change the way
things are run.
How about your relationship with your family in Pennsylvaniaóhas that changed
at all, for better or worse?
My family is my family and that has never changed. It will never change. I love
them and they love me.
I ask this next question because I personally was raised in a very devout "fire
and brimstone" Southern Baptist family and while I donít subscribe to those
teachings now, the guilt part of those teachings pops up in my head sometimes.
I would suspect that there are those in the Mennonite faith near where you grew
up that might say your troubles are caused from you leaving the faith. Have you
entertained any of these thoughts yourself? Why or why not?
No. I really havenít thought about that. Growing up a Mennonite still shapes who
I am today. I was raised, as a Mennonite, to value and respect and I grew up
with the belief that enough hard work and determination could accomplish
anything. Over and above these values I was taught and still live my life
respecting other peoples dignity and rights, and giving people the same respect
which I expect for myself. I donít think that what Iím going through has
anything to do with my leaving the community. I still respect how they live
their lives and I know that the community is proud of what Iíve done and are
supporting me now.
Walk us through your typical day now and share with us how you stay motivated
to fight on. Do you realistically think youíll be competing in 2007? If not,
how do you see your year playing out? Does sitting here on the brink of a new
year give you any feeling of renewed strength or resolve to fight?
I spend a good part of my day riding my bike and the rest of my time is mostly
spent in meetings or on conference calls with the defense team. Iíd rather ride
all day, but thatís not the reality right now. Regardless, itís good to be back
on the bike for at least a few hours a day. It makes the other stuff more
manageable. Considering how long this is going on, I donít know if Iíll be able
to race in 2007. Iíd love nothing more than to be in London in July rolling down
the start ramp with number 1 on my back. I just donít know how long this is
going to take. Regardless, itís my goal and dream to get back and win the Tour
de France again. Donít mistake that! Iíve always had strength and resolve to
fight, so that isnít changing with the New Year. Iím not big on ceremony. Iíd
just like to get on with it.
Share with us what it has meant to have the support of friends and family
It means everything to me. You learn a lot about people when you go through
something like this and Iím lucky to have such a supportive group of family and
Can you make some comments on the David Witt Memorial Ride which you
participated in a few weeks ago, plus reaction from fans that appeared at
the event? I thought this was a very nice gathering. It was a very
casual, humorous day.
It was great. I was happy to see the San Diego cycling community come out and
celebrate David's life while also helping the families of the firefighters. He
would have been happy. I donít know how soon Iíll be getting on a track again,
though! (Dave) Zabriskie almost put me into the wall. He needed to with the
"Uni-Biker" beard creating all of that drag! And speaking of drag, what was with
Rollís pink helmet?
Iíve interviewed you a few times now, and have always been delighted with
your straight forward answers and your sense of humor. I hope you are able to
hold on to that beyond all of this. For what itís worth, you still have many
fans still on your side, and many of us will always hold your epic Stage 17 ride
as a historic cycling moment.
I watched the ride into Paris on my Tivo a couple
of weeks ago as I prepared for this interview just to recapture the joy of that
dayóand it was a joyous victory! I know everything that has come after
has changed all of that for you, but I hope there is some place in your head or
heart that you are able to hold on to some of it, because it really was special
and spectacular. It meant a lot to many of us cycling fans, and you are a most
deserving Tour de France winner. Thank you for that.
Thanks, Cathy. I appreciate that.
Most images provided by Celia Cole and Ben Ross.