Sports: Landis denies cheating to win Tour de France
"My immediate reaction was to look for the alcohol bottle. But my secondary reaction was a bit more logical. My immediate reaction was a disastrous feeling. ... It's hard to put into words. I had everything I could possibly have hoped for and dreamt of. At the exact moment I was told, every single scenario went through my head about what was going to happen. There was no way for me to tell myself that this wasn't going to be a disaster. No matter what happens next I knew it was going to be a long road. So my immediate reaction was from a very, very high to a very low."-- Tour de France winner Floyd Landis' reaction upon learning the test result
"It hurts a lot, it hurts for Landis and for the sport. The sport had just been recovering after what happened before the Tour began, and this just hurts it when it was beginning to get over the past."-- Oscar Pereiro, the Spanish cyclist who finished second to Landis at the Tour
"There is always someone who wants to make a bigger bet than everyone else. It saddens me. We established rules in 1998 that some people still choose not to respect."-- Laurent Brochard, 1997 cycling world champion
"He said, 'There's no way.' I really believe him. I don't think he did anything wrong."-- Arlene Landis, who said her son called her Thursday afternoon from Europe
"Floyd was dealing with his own emotions on the phone, and I told him to be strong. There is a reason for this, and it's to give him greater glory, to give God greater glory when the whole thing is finished. ... Of course, he wasn't happy about it, but they're spoiling everything he's supposed to be doing right now. Why couldn't they take care of this before they pronounced him the winner? Lance went through this, too. Somebody doesn't want him to win."-- Arlene Landis, Floyd Landis' mother.
"You build up and create a new hero, and he gets slapped down. It's a serious blow."-- Dick Pound, leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency
"Nevertheless, the test was after stage of Morzine, his big heroic ride, there will always be suspicions around it. It's horrifying to read this ... People have been saying this is a clean Tour, the real values of Tour are back again, and this is a big disappointment for everybody."-- Stephen Roche, 1987 Tour de France winner
Paris — American cyclist Floyd Landis denied that he cheated to win the Tour de France, but said Thursday that his career will forever be stained by his positive test for high testosterone during the sport’s premiere event.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going to go away no matter what happens next,” Landis said during a teleconference.
Landis’ Tour de France victory was thrown into question earlier Thursday when his team said he tested positive for high testosterone levels during stage 17, when the 30-year-old American champion began his stunning comeback with a gritty charge into the Alps.
The Phonak team suspended Landis, pending results of the backup “B” sample of his drug test. If Landis is found guilty, he could be stripped of the Tour title and fired from the team.
“I think there’s a good possibility I’ll clear my name,” Landis said. “Regardless of whether this happens or not, I don’t know if this will ever go away.”
Landis said he wouldn’t be surprised if people were skeptical of him and the sport of cycling, but he pleaded for time to clear his name.
“All I’m asking for,” he said, “is that I be given a chance to prove that I’m innocent. Cycling has a traditional way of trying people in the court of public opinion before they get a chance to do anything else.
I would like to be presumed innocent until proven guilty — since that’s the way we do things in America.”
Asked repeatedly what might have tripped his positive test, Landis refused to lay blame on anything in particular. “As to what actually caused it on that particular day, I can only speculate,” he said.
Landis said he was still in Europe, but declined to say exactly where. “Not to be elusive, I have to figure out a way to get to the airport and get home.”
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