Lance Armstrong a doper? Boulder's Floyd Landis says "yes"

One of the most persistent rumors in cycling involves seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs -- the kind he didn't use to get his Colorado girlfriend pregnant despite his previous case of testicular cancer.

Now, the charge has some new pedal power thanks to Boulder's Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France championship after failing a drug test. In recent weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal, Landis sent e-mails to officials with USA Cycling and the International Cycling Union, among others, in which he reportedly admitted to his own drug use.

Landis also pointed the finger of blame at others, including Armstrong, who he credited with being a sort of doping sensei. Here's a key section of the piece:

In one of the e-mails, dated April 30 and addressed to Stephen Johnson, the president of USA Cycling, Mr. Landis said that Mr. Armstrong's longtime coach, Johan Bruyneel, introduced Mr. Landis to the use of steroid patches, blood doping and human growth hormone in 2002 and 2003, his first two years on the U.S. Postal Service team. He alleged Mr. Armstrong helped him understand the way the drugs worked. "He and I had lengthy discussions about it on our training rides during which time he also explained to me the evolution of EPO testing and how transfusions were now necessary due to the inconvenience of the new test," Mr. Landis claimed in the e-mail. He claimed he was instructed by Mr. Bruyneel how to use synthetic EPO and steroids and how to carry out blood transfusions that doping officials wouldn't be able to detect. Mr. Bruyneel and Mr. Johnson could not be reached for comment.

In the same email, Mr. Landis wrote that after breaking his hip in 2003, he flew to Girona, Spain -- a training hub for American riders -- and had two half-liter units of blood extracted from his body in three-week intervals to be used later during the Tour de France. The extraction, Mr. Landis claimed, took place in Mr. Armstrong's apartment, where blood bags belonging to Mr. Armstrong and his then-teammate George Hincapie were kept in a refrigerator in Mr. Armstrong's closet. Mr. Landis said he was asked to check the temperature of the blood daily. According to Mr. Landis, Mr. Armstrong left for a few weeks and asked Mr. Landis to make sure the electricity didn't go off and ruin the blood. George Hincapie, through a spokesman, denied the allegations.

Neither Landis nor Armstrong commented for the Journal report -- and it's important to note that this is simply one man's word against another's at this point. Nonetheless, Armstrong, a part-time Aspen resident who recently bought a piece of a Steamboat Springs nutritional foods business, Honey Stinger, once again finds himself the target of questions he probably would rather not address.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts