Floyd Landis ignored desperate pleas from his sponsor to avoid a public fight with fellow cyclist Lance Armstrong, according to e-mails Armstrong released in trying to prove the disgraced Landis has "zero credibility". Armstrong, who is competing at a race in California, released the messages after Landis accused the seven-time Tour de France winner of doping, teaching other riders to cheat and paying off a cycling official after allegedly testing positive in 2002. Armstrong has denied those allegations.
"Even a superficial review reveals a troubling, angry and misplaced effort at retribution by Landis for his perceived slights," said a statement posted on Armstrong's RadioShack team website. "While these types of repeated, tired and baseless accusations against Lance have been proven false in the past, it is quite regrettable, but telling, that so many in cycling are now attacked." Landis did not respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press. His longtime sponsor, Dr Brent Kay, also did not return a request for comment.
Perhaps the most telling exchange was an e-mail to Landis from Kay, a cycling enthusiast and one of Landis' most ardent supporters, financially and otherwise. Kay has said he believes Landis wasn't guilty of doping when he won the Tour de France in 2006. In e-mail, sent last month, Kay asked Landis to call a truce with Armstrong and suggested he ride on the star's team. "If either side does not like this idea just throw this in the trash and be done with it, have the press conference and get it over with. But, once again, I'm asking you to do this for me and my family so we can move on with our lives and leave all the anger, hatred and bitterness behind," Kay wrote in an April 28 e-mail to Landis that he forwarded to Armstrong on May 3.
Less than a month later, Landis went public, not only targeting Armstrong but Tour of California officials, too, for not inviting his team to participate in the race. "I certainly understand that my revealing that Lance Armstrong has relied on blood doping, EPO, and anabolics to win the three Tours de France in which I helped him will jeopardise your substantial investment in facilitating his appearance so from a business point of view I understand fully," Landis wrote to Andrew Messick, the race director.
In his e-mail response, Messick said the accusation did not dignify a response, and reminded Landis that the California race welcomed him in 2009. Messick said he didn't believe Landis' current team could handle the challenge of an 800-mile stage race. Messick said the back-and-forth with Landis begin on April 3, when Landis called and asked to have lunch. When the two met in Los Angeles, Landis shared the allegations he has since made public. Messick said he asked Landis if he expected anyone to believe him.
After that meeting, Landis continued to e-mail him. "Instead of them being on clearing his conscience, they were much more focused on the injustice of him or his team not being able to be part of the race," Messick said. "My observation was that I had a lunch with him in which he seemed lucid. Then I get wacky e-mails at night. "I'm accustomed to teams saying we deserve to be part of this race. But we never had someone try to do what he did. He recorded our first lunch. There was never a moment I didn't suspect he was going to leak all this stuff."