Tour de France: Can Lance Armstrong keep his Teflon image?
As the Tour de France gets under way, defrocked 2006 winner Floyd Landis has put forward fresh, detailed doping allegations against Lance Armstrong. But Armstrong has become as famous for deflecting scandal as for leading the peloton.
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No antidoping agency has ever accused Armstrong of failing a drug test.Skip to next paragraph
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Why Landis accusation may test Teflon image
But though Armstrong has successfully parried repeated attacks throughout his career, Landis’s allegations – tainted as they may be by credibility concerns – may present a more difficult battle for him.
“The thing that makes these different is the fact that it’s someone as high profile as Landis, an ex-teammate,” says Daniel Benson, the editor of Cycling News. “It was someone who was really in the circle and the level of detail is staggering.”
Right now it’s Landis’s word against Armstrong’s. But that could change: the US Food and Drug Administration has launched a federal investigation into the matter.
How loyal is Armstrong's cadre?
The investigation is being chaired by Jeff Novitzky, the hard-nosed investigator who jumped into dumpsters outside the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) to find syringes and other materials to break the BALCO steroids ring. His work ultimately helped bring down more than a dozen athletes affiliated with BALCO, including baseball player Barry Bonds and track star Marion Jones, who had to give up her five medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“The reason that this won’t go away is that there is this federal investigation now,” says Mr. Kimmage of the Times. “And Floyd cast the net to include people like [former Armstrong teammates] George Hincapie and Dave Zabriskie. They may be ‘loyal’ to [Armstrong], but they will not go to jail for him.”
Even if Armstrong were to be guilty, however, his supporters and sponsors may still embrace the Lance brand.
“I think people have sort of made up their minds about Lance,” says Rogers of VeloNews. “There are people who hate him and see this as vindication and the people who love Lance, they’ve already turned a blind eye. I don’t think this is going to change that much.”
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