The International Cycling Union has hit out at Floyd Landis for his incendiary comments about doping in the sport.
The disgraced American rider, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone, today admitted to drug offences throughout his road-racing career having previously fought a costly and unsuccessful legal battle to clear his name.
Landis sent a series of emails to cycling and anti-doping officials detailing his doping history, which he says began in 2002 when he rode for the US Postal Service team and continued when he moved to Phonak in 2005.
But the 34-year-old, who served a two-year ban following his failed test, also implicated a number of high-profile riders and officials in his emails, and the UCI are disappointed he has made his accusations public.
A statement read: “The International Cycling Union has learned of the declarations made by Mr Floyd Landis and published in the Wall Street Journal.
“The UCI 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.
“The UCI will leave it to the individuals accused by Mr Landis to take the position they see fit with regards to this issue.”
Landis said of his decision to come clean after previously denying having used drugs: “I want to clear my conscience. I don’t want to be part of the problem any more.
“With the benefit of hindsight, and a somewhat different perspective, I made some misjudgements. And, of course, I can sit here and say all day long, ’If I could do it again I’d do something different’, but I just don’t have that choice.
“I don’t feel guilty at all about having doped. I did what I did because that’s what we 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.”
The American has revealed his decision to tell all now was partly because the World Anti-Doping Agency’s statute of limitations for doping offences of eight years meant his evidence would shortly become unusable.
He continued on espn.com: “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.”
Landis, though, still denies taking testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France.
“There must be some other explanation, whether it was done wrong or I don’t know what,” he said.
“The problem I have with even bothering to argue it is 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.”
WADA president John Fahey issued a statement cautiously welcoming Landis’ revelations.
“WADA is aware of the serious allegations made by Mr Landis,” the statement read. “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 authorities with appropriate jurisdiction to get to the heart of the issues raised. WADA looks forward to these further investigations and enquiries by those responsible.
“Generally speaking, WADA encourages everyone with knowledge of banned practices in sport, including athletes who were caught cheating and who denied the evidence for years, to be forthcoming in disclosing the information they may have to the proper authorities.
“This will further contribute to clean sport and strengthen existing anti-doping programmes for the good of clean athletes worldwide.”
Former Phonak boss Andy Rihs, meanwhile, insisted Landis had acted alone and that the team had no knowledge of his doping activities.
“Neither I nor the management of the team knew that Floyd Landis was doped,” Rihs said in the statement.
“His present statements... are lies. It is probably a last tragic attempt by Landis to once again gain public recognition whilst step by step he has lost this in the last few years. It is sad to have to see such a thing.”