Disgraced cyclist Landis leaves Oregon event before finishing the final stage

By Anne M. Peterson, AP
Sunday, July 25, 2010

Landis quietly leaves Oregon cycling event

BEND, Ore. — While Lance Armstrong’s legacy was celebrated in his final Tour de France, disgraced former winner Floyd Landis quietly ducked out of a race in central Oregon.

Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping and admitted this spring to using drugs to gain a competitive edge. The admission spurred a federal investigation of possible fraud and doping charges against Armstrong and his associates.

Armstrong has denied using performance-enhancing drugs and has never tested positive.

Landis reiterated his claims on a network news show aired this week. At the same time, he was riding in the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend.

But Landis was a no-show for Sunday’s final stage of the event.

He rode Saturday night in the fourth stage through downtown Bend, where he was met by a smattering of cheers and boos by some of the 10,000 spectators who recognized him.

Landis entered the race at the last minute earlier this week and caused a stir in the prologue time trials when he wore a plain gray T-shirt rather than a racing jersey because race officials said he could not wear a certain logo.

When asked by The Associated Press on Saturday if he could answer a few questions, Landis declined.

“Nah, not right now,” he said. “Maybe tomorrow if I feel better.”

It really was not much of a surprise that Landis bailed on the final day — considering temperatures were in the 90s for the difficult 82-mile stage and he was never in contention. England’s Rory Sutherland of the UnitedHealthcare team won the five-stage event.

Earlier this week Landis spoke briefly to the Bend Bulletin newspaper about both coming clean and airing the allegations against Armstrong that touched off the federal probe.

“It was about doing what was right,” Landis told the newspaper. “It was about doing what allowed me to live my life OK with me. So whatever the reaction is, I hope it’s good. I hope people want to know the truth, but that wasn’t really my main concern.”

While Landis still maintains he did not use synthetic testosterone — even though he tested for high levels of testosterone following his Tour victory — he has conceded to using other performance-enhancing drugs and blood doping.

Landis claims that doping was common years ago when he and Armstrong rode together on the U.S. Postal Service Team.

Armstrong, meanwhile, wrapped up his final Tour de France on Sunday. He has said he wants to devote more time to his family and to his foundation to benefit cancer research. Alberto Contador won the Tour for the third time in four years.

Armstrong, who questions Landis’ credibility, has hired an attorney to address the federal investigation led by Jeff Novitzky, a special agent with the Food and Drug Administration.

“That’s just somebody who’s trying to ruin the lives of others,” Armstrong said of Landis while on a high-speed French train from Bordeaux to the Paris area for the Tour’s 20th and final stage.

Three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond says has received a subpoena as part of the probe. LeMond was in Bend earlier in the week and spoke to KTVZ-TV.

“I think that Floyd, the fact that he kind of came clean for himself, I think that’s really important,” LeMond said. “We had our own differences about four years ago. I kind of understand where he was. He’s in a difficult position.”

Former professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton has also been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, although his attorney refused to say whether it has anything to do with the Armstrong investigation. Hamilton also rode on the US Postal team with Armstrong.

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