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Pro Cycling Bombshell?

The New York Times reports that Floyd Landis has "come clean" about his past use of performance enhancing drugs.  He admits to doping (using EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone and blood transfusions) beginning in 2002, when he was riding with Lance Armstrong on the US Postal team.  He also claims that Armstrong, George Hincapie, and others were also doping.  Since Landis has no evidence that any of the other cyclists named were also doping, some of his claims must be viewed skeptically.

Landis also claims that he spent $90,000 per year on his doping.  That's a lot of money, given that for most of those years Armstrong was probably the big money winner on US Postal.

Despite numerous protests, books, and announcements, and spending a reported $2 million defending his reputation in court, Landis was never cleared of his positive test after his 2006 Tour de France victory.  In light of that positive test, this admission by Landis is not very surprising.   And for Armstrong, unsubstantiated claims that he doped have been thick on the ground for years, so one more, even when made by one of his most important team mates during his prime, is likely to have little effect on his reputation.

Professor of Economics, University of Alberta

4 Comments

  • Avatar Of Millsy
    Millsy May 20, 2010

    I’d have to agree that one more claim of Armstrong’s use won’t really inflame anything more (though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true). My question, however, is that given some of Armstrong’s teammates have been found to have used, should that nullify his own victories?

    Anyone in cycling will tell you it’s a team sport, and that the single winner is very dependent on the performance of the team and the drafting, etc. that goes on in certain stretches. I don’t think it’s out of the question to imply that Armstrong directly benefitted from others using, even if he didn’t. But I haven’t heard this discussed very much in the media. Any cycling buffs have any thoughts on that? World Series haven’t been taken away from teams in the past, so maybe it’s a moot point (though, cycling does tend to take back its titles–any precedence in the Olympics for a team?). Just curious about people’s thoughts on that, as I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to steroid use in sports.

  • Avatar Of Gerald
    Gerald May 20, 2010

    Regarding earnings, most cycling teams split winnings evenly among the riders, so Landis would have profited heavily from a Lance Tour win. The $90, ooo a year figure seems high but reasonable.

  • Avatar Of Dan
    Dan May 20, 2010

    The difference between Landis and Armstrong is that Landis failed a drug test.

    I don’t know if Armstrong has used PEDs but he has not flunked any tests. Since doping was rampant through pro cycling it is not hard to imagine Armstrong using. But lets wait for more evidence than what Landis says.

  • Avatar Of Mark
    Mark May 21, 2010

    I guess the problem with stripping Armstrong of victories in which teammates were found to have been on drugs is that, given the number of positive drug tests in cycling, you may only be left with a handful of purely clean teams from which to award a winner.

    In a (very general) sense this is what could play out with the NRL/Melbourne Storm salary cap rort. While the NRL stripped the Storm of two premierships in years the Storm were found to have been rorting the salary cap system, there are rumours emerging that perhaps other teams rorted the salary cap in years when they won premierships. Will be interesting to see what the NRL does if these new allegations/rumours are proven true.

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