Cyclist Lance Armstrong today denied allegations by his former teammate Floyd Landis that he used performance-enhancing drugs, questioning Landis's credibility and motivation in admitting to his own drug use after years of denial.
"We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from," Armstrong told a crowd of reporters before riding in stage five of the Tour of California race.
Armstrong was later involved in a crash during the race and was taken to a hospital for X-rays, his coach said.
Armstrong was injured after another rider skidded on gravel and fell. A bloodied Armstrong reportedly tried to return to the race, but then went to a hospital for stitches to his elbow and cheek.
The coincidence of a crash on an already tumultuous day is "typical of everything that surrounds Armstrong," said Bill Strickland, an editor-at-large for Bicycling magazine and author of a forthcoming book on Armstrong. "It's such an opera with the guy," Strickland said.
At the press conference before the accident, Armstrong said Landis was changing his story. "This is a man that's been under oath several times and had a very different version. This is a man that wrote a book that had a completely different version. This is somebody that took, some would say, close to a million dollars from innocent people for his defense under a different premise. And now, when it's all run out, the story changes."
That victory was stripped from him after he was accused and found guilty of doping. Landis maintained his innocence for years following the race, reportedly spending millions to defend his reputation.
Changing His Story After Years of Denial
As recently as February, Landis publicly denied doping charges in an interview with Larry King, according to a CNN transcript.
In recent weeks, though, he changed his story, sending e-mails to cycling officials in which he admitted to drug use and accused some of the biggest names in the sport, including Armstrong, of doping too, Landis confirmed to ESPN.
Landis told ESPN that he had used drugs including testosterone, human growth hormone, female hormones, and the red blood cell booster erythropoietin. He also said he had done blood doping, receiving transfusions of red blood cells. He claimed that he spent $90,000 per year on such drugs, and, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal, claimed that Armstrong and his longtime coach Johan Bruyneel had helped to introduce him to the doping techniques.
"I want to clear my conscience," Landis told ESPN. "I don't want to be part of the problem anymore."
Armstrong: Landis Lost Credibility a Long Time Ago
Armstrong and Bruyneel today said Landis had different motivations, and they were not surprised by his allegations. They said Landis had been making threats against them for several years.
Bruyneel said Landis began contacting him four years ago after testing positive for doping. He "threatened, blackmailed, however you want to call it, but asked for specific things from me and from the team to help him," said Bruyneel, who said Landis asked Bruyneel for a job with the team.
"Things haven't been going well for [Landis]," said Strickland. "His racing career is suffering. He's admitted in public that his legal troubles have more or less ruined him financially."
Armstrong said, "If I could give you one word to sum all this up, it's credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago."
The allegations against Armstrong will most likely not have much effect on his wider reputation, Strickland said.
"This is not going to sway anyone's opinion," he said. "I really believe that people have their opinions of Lance, and they look for evidence to support that."
Armstrong said that Landis's disclosure does not change his plans to compete in this year's Tour de France, joking with reporters that he didn't expect Floyd to be in France telling the story. There is a warrant for Landis' arrest in France, related to charges that he hacked into an anti-doping lab's computer.
Armstrong also said he is just one of several high-profile cyclists caught up in Landis's accusations.
"It's very sad. I think at one point or another, all of us implicated have cared about Floyd," Armstrong said. "I don't want to make a personal attack on Floyd Landis. I don't think he's a good guy or a bad guy. I certainly think he has some issues."