Landis was warned by UCI

2010-06-08 21:41

London - Cycling's governing body warned Floyd Landis he could be sued for defamation weeks before he made allegations that it covered up a positive drug test by Lance Armstrong.

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a letter was sent to Landis by the UCI's lawyer two or three weeks before the American rider's allegations became public.

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, claimed in e-mails to cycling officials and sponsors that Armstrong tested positive for EPO at the Tour de Suisse in 2002 and paid off Verbruggen to keep it quiet. Armstrong won the 2001 Swiss race, but did not compete there in 2002.

"Floyd Landis sent a message to the UCI that he was going to publish the things that he published," Verbruggen said in a telephone interview. "He said that we, the UCI, had put a test from Armstrong under the table.

"The lawyer of the UCI sent a letter back, not from me personally, but on behalf of the UCI, saying, 'We have to warn you: When you tell lies, you are liable, and we might sue you if you tell lies.' That was sent already two or three weeks before he published the whole thing."

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said the letter was sent in early May.

Verbruggen said he is "100% sure" that Armstrong never tested positive. The Dutch official added that he is ready to testify "under oath" that he has never covered up any positive test.

"Under my presidency, never ever has one case been put under the table," Verbruggen said. "Under oath, I don't have to swear that. I ask to declare that under oath."

After previous denials, Landis confessed last month to years of systematic doping. He alleged that seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong and other elite riders had also been involved in doping.

Armstrong has denied the allegations and said Landis "lost his credibility a long time ago."

Verbruggen questioned Landis' state of mind and said, "I feel a little bit sorry for the guy frankly."

Verbruggen said no further letters had been sent by the UCI to Landis since the allegations came out. He said he personally had no plans to pursue the matter.

"I put Landis out of mind," he said. "I don't want to think about the guy. I don't know what the UCI is doing. I don't know whether they want to pursue this case."

Carpani had no comment on what action UCI might take.

In the meantime, Verbruggen said, the UCI had checked all EPO cases from 2001 through 2003 and found there were no positives from Armstrong.

"We have never had a positive case of Lance Armstrong," he said. "We've checked and checked and checked again, but we are absolutely positive about that."

Verbruggen also addressed Armstrong's financial donation to the UCI in 2002, an issue which has raised questions of conflict of interest.

Verbruggen said Armstrong's agent approached the UCI an offered to make a donation for the fight against doping.

"This was discussed by our anti-doping people," Verbruggen said. "They said, 'We can't use this money for doping controls.' Then they said if Lance would agree that we buy a Sysmex for this, then that could be a good idea. I left it there. I have not been busy with it afterwards."

A Sysmex is a machine used for analyzing blood.

Verbruggen said the machine could be priced up to 100,000 Swiss Francs ($85,000), but ended up costing between 60,000-70,000 Swiss Francs ($51,000-$60,000).

Verbruggen said he checked with the UCI in 2005 or 2006 to see if they had received the money.

"They had forgotten about it," he said. "Then they went after the money and they got it. That's the whole story."

Verbruggen said he didn't see any serious conflict in the arrangement.

"In hindsight you can say that," Verbruggen said. "But at that time, it was good. We needed the Sysmex for the control of the hematocrits (blood levels). We spend a lot of money in anti-doping and we got that and we accepted it."


  • robert the great - 2010-06-08 22:15

    Where there is smoke there is fire!!

  • Neal the greater - 2010-06-08 22:40

    @robert the great - maybe its not smoke, it could be steam. I think Landis is blowing off steam.

  • TruBlu - 2010-06-09 06:24

    @robert the great - you are not "the great'.....just plain old rob.....not even a capital poor Lance there is someone great - Lance The Great!! Please r, get over yourself........

  • Science Joe - 2010-06-09 07:41

    Untrue. Armstrong did in fact test POSITIVE for synthetic EPO! The levels were below the limits allowed at the time. The fact is he had presence of synthetic EPO in his blood - so how did that get there. The research is well published. Landis has nothing to lose so he's probably talking the truth about what he observed. Sadly his credentials are not the best so the guilty parties are getting away with discrediting Landis' versions. Sooner Armstrong & his druggie cronies retire the better for cycling!

  • spokes - 2010-06-09 08:07

    I am a Lance fan and would really like to believe that he is clean - after all he IS the most tested athlete of all time as far as doping is concerned, and every test has revealed zilch! BUT I keep asking myself: "What does Landis hope to gain from all these disclosures & confessions?" He already has zero credibility in the cycling fraternity and is a confessed liar. If these accusations are not true, he will be a laughing stock once more and someone to really be pitied. But in my mind there is just a tiny bit of doubt, that perhaps there IS an element of truth in Landis' statements, and if so a whole new can of worms will be opened and our beloved sport will never be the same again... The possibility of the 7 times winner of the TDF being a cheat is just too untenable to grasp!

  • Joe - 2010-06-09 08:17

    I also believe Mr Clean is not so clean. Cycling is like wrestling(WWE) the whole lot of them use some form of doping or another. Ask Owen Hannie

  • THE Man. - 2010-06-09 08:45

    To the guy that thinks he is a Science Joe , The most tested sportsmen in the world that gets test on an avg of twise a week and is still clear just shows all of you that he is smiling the longest. A man that has been through what he has,he would not pump his body full of drugs. Leave the guy alone until he is tested positive, he is not !!!!!!!! Why is Contador not tested as much as Lance because , they are trying to make the little angel look good for now. Go and read Lance Armstrongs books and you will see what type of man he is and why he wont do it.!!!!!!! BELIVIE IT BECAUSE ITS TRUE HE IS THE GREATEST SPORTSMAN EVER!!!!

  • Pottow - 2010-06-10 11:10

    I don't know whether Lance and co. are the complete dopers Landis makes them out to be, but it has become pretty clear that people beat the tests all the time. Anyone see Thomas Frei's comments about a month ago after getting suspended? From what I remember, he basically said he was doping consistently and failed a test because he didn't drink enough water, which he knew at the time. Kohl's later statements seemed to say as much- consistent doping without getting caught. And if you read the articles, Landis says he was doped out of his mind for a few years and he only tested positive once. Here's food for thought. How did Lance beat all the other riders who were on steroids if if Lance wasn't? It sounds improbable to me.

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