Saturday, October 21, 2006

Floyd's fury

Our honorary captain is pissed. And he's on a mission too. At a recent appearance in Wisconsin, Floyd declared "I'm going to do everything I can to bring the down the UCI." Look out Mr. McQuaid. Full story below (ripped off from here).
Cycling champ on mission to clear his name
By Mike Ivey

Hobbling on crutches from painful hip resurfacing surgery, still battling doping allegations after winning the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis could have bailed out of his scheduled appearance Friday in Madison.

"But that's not Floyd," said Chris Fortune, president of the Saris Cycling Group. "He's always done what he said he's going to do."

Landis was in town both to promote his sponsor, Saris, and to keynote the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's annual fundraiser.

And in an interview with The Capital Times, Landis said he's committed to putting as much energy into clearing his name as he's put into racing.

Instead of feeling angry or depressed, Landis said he's looking at the doping case as another life challenge, like trying to beat the world's best bike riders or deal with a degenerative hip condition. He said the hip problem is proving severe enough he may wait until 2008 to ride the Tour de France again, even if he's cleared to compete in 2007.

"I could just give up on everything and go home but that's not me," said Landis, seated at a table and munching on peppermint candy inside the Saris headquarters off Verona Road on Madison's southwest side.

Part of the problem, Landis maintains, is that he never knew exactly what he was accused of. Within days of becoming the third American to win cycling's premier event, news leaked out that a urine sample taken after his decisive ride in the Alps had shown high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.

Landis said he has been tested 30 times or more during his career and had never produced a positive result. He still doesn't have a explanation for the positive following his Stage 17 victory in the Tour other than faulty testing, dehydration, medicine used to treat his hip or a contaminated sample.

Those test results were not shared with Landis or his lawyers until late August. The rider's own doctors have since gone over the results and have prepared a scientific defense they are convinced will clear the 30-year old Pennsylvania native.

The defense, which was posted Oct. 12 at, details lab results. It shows that Landis did not have high levels of testosterone in his system; rather, he had low levels of epitestosterone, leading to a high testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. That distinction is quite an important one, he contends.

"This isn't as simple a matter as it's been made out to be," Landis said.

In either case, Landis is still facing sanctions that could both strip him of the Tour de France title and ban him from racing. A decision from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency could come as soon as January.

The case has not only cost Landis a $1 million contract to ride next year for Phonak, the Swiss team that fired him shortly after the test results were released, it is also proving expensive in its own right.

"We're trying to set up some sort of defense fund for Floyd," said Saris' Fortune. "You're really fighting a Goliath on this thing."

While Landis was candid Friday in discussing his legal problems, he also made sure to offer his support for bicycling and bike transportation. After all, that was the official reason for his visit to Madison.

Landis said he was well aware of recent budget cuts in Wisconsin that have put on hold completion of the Badger Trail between Madison and the Illinois border, along with other bike projects around the state.

"I know how big cycling is here," he said. "You've also got a lot of bike companies here (Saris, Trek, Pacific, Planet Bike) which is why I was so surprised they could pull this off."

The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin used the Landis appearance, which was open to the public for a $25 donation, to beef up its lobbying efforts. Fortune, who also serves as chairman of the Governor's Bicycle Coordinating Council, said he's personally committed to making sure that bicycling gets its fair share of state transportation dollars.

"We need to do something to raise the visibility on this issue," he said. "The road builders are pirating funds that should be going to bicycling."

The Saris Cycling Group grew out of the old Graber Industries. The firm was purchased in 1989 by Fortune and has expanded through acquisitions and product development. It now has over 110 full-time employees and sales approaching $25 million. It makes a variety of bike products and accessories, competing with names like Polar, Minoura and Blackburn.

The Saris relationship with Landis goes back three years to when he was riding with Lance Armstrong for the U.S. Postal team. Landis began using a Saris-made "PowerTap" hub, which accurately measures the amount of energy a rider is delivering to the wheels. When Landis changed teams, his sponsor came with him.

So what's in the future for Landis if cycling's governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, keeps him from racing again?

"I'm going to do everything I can to bring the down the UCI," said Landis with his usual candor.
OTT: Frog Holler, Adams Hotel Road

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