NEW YORK (Reuters) - Disgraced Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs and accused some of his sport’s biggest names, including Lance Armstrong, of also cheating.
Seven-times Tour de France winner Armstrong dismissed the accusations as untrue before crashing heavily during the fifth stage of the Tour of California and needing hospital treatment.
“We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from,” he told reporters.
Landis, stripped of his 2006 Tour victory after failing a doping test, had spent four years and more than $1 million protesting his innocence before deciding to come clean on Thursday.
“I want to clear my conscience,” he told ESPN after making his confession in a series of emails.
“I don’t want to be part of the problem any more.”
In the emails, which Reuters has seen and Landis said were also distributed to USA Cycling and the International Cycling Union (UCI), the American provided details of a variety of drugs he had used during his career and who supplied them to him.
USA Cycling chief executive Steve Johnson would not comment on the accusations but said they would treated seriously.
“There are many accusations being circulated and we are confident these will be thoroughly investigated by the appropriate authorities,” he said in a statement.
Landis admitted using EPO, human growth hormone, testosterone, blood transfusions and female hormones from 2002, when he joined the U.S. Postal team.
The 34-year-old said he witnessed some of his team mates, including Armstrong, use illegal drugs, including once on a team bus during a race.
Armstrong has had to fend off accusations of doping before. He has never failed a dope test and has always denied taking banned substances.
“It’s our word against his word,” Armstrong told reporters. “I like our word. We like our credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.
“With regard to the specific allegations, the specific claims, they’re not even worth getting in to.”
The astonishing claims by Landis triggered a swift response from senior doping and cycling officials.
“We are very interested in learning more about this matter and we will liaise with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and any other authority with appropriate jurisdiction to get to the heart of the issues raised,” World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey said in a statement.
Landis accused officials from the sport’s governing body of covering up a positive test from Armstrong during the 2002 Tour of Switzerland — a race the UCI said he did not compete in.
“Deeply shocked by the gravity of this statement, which considerably impinges on the honor of all persons who have dedicated themselves to the fight against doping, the UCI wishes to clearly state that it has never changed or concealed a positive test result,” it said in a statement.
“Finally, the UCI wishes to make clear that it will undertake all necessary measures to defend its honor as well as the honor of all its executives who have been unfairly accused by Mr Floyd Landis.”
Landis was stripped of his Tour win after returning an abnormal testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. He denied any wrongdoing and fought a long and expensive legal case, which he lost, and was subsequently banned for two years.
His suspension ended last year but in February a French judge issued an arrest warrant against him for suspected hacking into an anti-doping laboratory computer.
French anti-doping agency head Pierre Bordry said the judge believed Landis wanted to prove the laboratory where his samples were tested was wrong.
Landis maintained that the testers got it wrong, arguing he had used human growth hormone and not the synthetic testosterone he tested positive for.
Additional reporting by Julien Pretot in Paris, Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles and Gene Cherry in Raleigh; Editing by Jon Bramley and Alison Wildey