Lance Armstrong has given his official response to the comprehensive allegations made against him by former US Postal team-mate Floyd Landis.
In a series of emails to national and international cycling authorities, Landis admitted his use of banned performance-enhancing substances and blood doping techniques. He also alleged Armstrong and several other former team-mates also doped, showed him how to dope and how to evade detection during anti-doping tests.
Speaking to press prior to stage five of the Tour of California on Thursday, Armstrong categorically denied every allegation made against him and questioned the validity of Landis's statements. Armstrong also said that Landis had been 'harassing' him and team manager Johan Bruyneel over a long period of time. Bruyneel was Landis and Armstrong's team manager at US Postal.
"Obviously everyone has questions about Floyd Landis and his allegations. I would say that I'm a little surprised, but I am not," Armstrong said.
"In all honesty, this has been going on for a long time. The harassment and threats from Floyd started a few years ago and really, at that time, we largely ignored him. Johan [Bruyneel] can speak more to what Floyd exactly wanted from us and the team. A year ago, I told him, ‘listen, you do what you have to do.' We have nothing to say and nothing to hide."
"But with regard to the specific allegations and the specific claims, they are not even worth getting into. I'm not going to waste your time or my time."
One of Landis's allegations, listed under the heading '2002', involves a bribe paid to Hein Verbruggen, then head of the UCI, to cover up Armstrong's alleged positive test for EPO during the Tour of Switzerland. When asked whether he had ever paid off the UCI, Armstrong responded:
"Absolutely not. No. That is the other thing, if you get into it. Obviously we've seen the email and that is not correct. But a lot of other things in the email, the timeline is off, if you go year by year." Armstrong did not race the Tour of Switzerland in 2002, but he did win it in 2001 - the phrasing of Landis's email in this particular case is ambiguous, but could mean either year.
Armstrong also revealed that knew about the emails in advance of their wider publication on Thursday. "To be honest, I was surprised that it didn't come up in Sacramento [at the start of the Tour of California]," said Armstrong. "We were all fully expecting it to come out then. These emails have been out for quite some time. We were fully expecting this then."
In conclusion, Armstrong said that he would not be taking immediate legal action against Landis and would assist authorities into any investigation into the claims, but he also questioned Landis's current state of mind, saying "I saw him every day at the Tour of the Gila. Not one word was said. It was ironic because not one word would be said to any of us during the race. We heard stories about him talking to himself. But we would get home and all of a sudden we would have these emails from him at night. Strange."
Later on Thursday, Armstrong was forced to withdraw from the Tour of California after suffering injuries due to a crash.
Landis admits he doped and implicates others
WADA will investigate Landis's allegations
UCI responds to Landis's allegations
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1