Roots of a Rift

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Hosenball

What led disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis, who spent three and a half years after his 2006 Tour de France victory denying he doped, to not only back-pedal on his story in May, but accuse onetime teammate Lance Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs?

Armstrong's associates suggest that Landis launched his campaign against the seven-time Tour winner after Armstrong rejected Landis's efforts to make a comeback. Johan Bruyneel--the manager of Armstrong's Radio Shack cycling team, which was assembled in July 2009--tells NEWSWEEK that Landis contacted him last October or November seeking a spot. Bruyneel says he turned Landis away because of his reputation as a doper. "I told him it would be a bad PR move" that could damage the new team's efforts to win entry into the 2010 Tour, Bruyneel says.

In April, a few weeks before Landis went public with his revelations, organizers of the Tour of California, a major U.S. race, denied entry to a team Landis had joined (it said the team didn't have enough of a track record). Tour director Andrew Messick says that two days before the news was announced, Landis unexpectedly asked him to lunch. Landis, says Messick, said he planned to confess to doping and talked about other cyclists' drug use, including Armstrong's. Messick says that at the lunch Landis made no threat about publicly implicating others in doping. But a few weeks later Landis and a friend began e-mailing Messick and others, pleading that his team be allowed into the race--and hinting that damaging revelations about doping by Armstrong and others might be forthcoming. …