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Lance Armstrong's accuser: Who is Floyd Landis?

Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France but was stripped of his title after doping revelations. Now, he’s admitting to using banned drugs – and saying that Lance Armstrong did, too.

By Staff writer / May 21, 2010

Phonak's team rider Floyd Landis of the US, wearing the leader's yellow jersey, holds a US flag as he takes his lap of honor around the Champs Elysees after winning the Tour de France cycling race in Paris in this July 2006 file photo. On Thursday, Landis admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, says that Lance Armstrong did, too.

Stefano Rellandini/Reuters/File

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After a quiet few years for cycling, Floyd Landis sent shock waves through the sport by claiming that he – and many other top riders, including Lance Armstrong – systematically used banned drugs for years.

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“We all believed Floyd during the four years he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs,” Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, told VeloNews.com. “There are a lot of fans of his in our organization. So for him to say that everything he’s been telling us for four years is untrue is a completely different reality.”

Indeed, the cycling community has largely turned on Mr. Landis as a fraud, albeit with a hint of pity for a man many see as angry and volatile. On Thursday, Mr. Armstrong dismissed his claim that the two discussed how to dope and not get caught. Landis, said Armstrong, has changed his story before and is not credible.

So who is this man who has touched off a firestorm with his new claims?

Just four years ago, Landis was a golden boy, coming from behind to win the 2006 Tour de France. After a disastrous Stage 16, he pulled off what was hailed at the time as one of cycling's greatest comebacks: He powered up one of the most grueling stages of the Tour – alone, without the help of a pack – and sailed into Paris as the farm boy from Pennsylvania whom everyone could cheer as a true American hero.

But then it emerged that he had tested positive for synthetic testosterone after Stage 17. He was charged with doping – a charge upheld in arbitration in 2007 and in a 2008 appeal ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He virtually rode his life down to the rims as he fought the charges. He not only lost his Tour title, but also his marriage, his savings, and his credibility.

The cycling community has largely homed in on Landis's deceit and what it sees as a self-serving attempt to bring down other top cyclists with him – perhaps in revenge for being shut out of job and racing opportunities, including this month's Tour of California, which is run by Messick's company.

But renowned antidoping scientist Don Catlin says the most important point is not Landis's claims about others, but the fact that by admitting his own doping he has broken cycling's strict code of silence on the practice.

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