Ross and Jonathan of ScienceofSport put me onto “Articles on Cycling” and particularly to an interview by Paul Kimmage of Floyd Landis. The interview is on NYVeloCity and is worth a read. It’s a sad story, but falls within everything that I’ve read about pro cycling in Europe. Cyclocosm unearthed some documents that substantiate non-doping portions of Landis’s story, particularly related to how the UCI, the governing body for the sport, operates, consistent with what he was told by Lance Armstrong. (I particularly like the line by UCI’s then-president to Landis’s lawyer seeking payment of his client’s salary, “aggressive approach might perhaps work in the USA, but it does not in Europe, and most definitely, not with me.”)
In something of a follow-up, NYVeloCity came upon a story in CyclingNews that the honchos of UCI have thought ill for Landis’s saying in an interview with a German television station that “As far as the UCI is concerned, nothing about a cover up or taking a bribe or some kind of race results manipulation would surprise me.” A Swiss lawyer wrote to Landis, asserting that the statement was “detrimental to [the] honour” of the current and past presidents of UCI.
In response, Landis emailed, “I haven’t heard from you in a few days and thought I’d drop you a note with a few things to ponder. I’d like you to please try to reconcile this with your threat of litigation in light of todays exoneration of Alberto Contador. I look forward to your explanation.”
The “this” there is the prospect of Alberto Contador getting no penalty although testing found him to have taken a banned substance. Back to ScienceofSport, and we have these observations, basically saying that cycling protects its own. Hence the irony in UCI questioning Landis’s opinion.
Coincidentally, Lance Armstrong announced his retirement from cycling, and the AP piece on it is surprisingly even-handed (e.g., “His retirement ends a comeback effort that failed to produce an eighth title or diminish talk that performance-enhancing drugs helped his career.”). It quotes Pat McQuaid, UCI’s head and one of those unhappy with Landis, as saying about Armstrong “His contribution to cycling has been enormous, from both the sporting point of view and his personality. All sports need global icons and he has become a global icon for cycling.” If you missed it, here’s a recent Sports Illustrated piece on Armstrong.