July 28, 2006 – DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: To get your “Daily Dose” of health news online, log on to our Web site. You’ll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address is CNN.com/health.
Let’s go live to Madrid, Spain. There is American Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, just arriving there at the hotel in Madrid. He’s going to hold a news conference that he and his people have called to deal with the allegations that he failed one drug test on the 17th stage of Tour de France.
As he gets seated and they get situated, let’s listen in to what the American has to say.
Looks like a little bit of pandemonium — they’re not so organized there in Madrid — as the photographers are crowding the scene there, trying to get in on Floyd Landis. Makes it a little bit difficult to see him and hear him.
He has called this news conference asking his fans and cycling enthusiasts around the world not to be so quick to rush to judgment because that one test came back after the 17th stage with a high testosterone level. He says it’s possible that drugs that he takes for his deteriorating hip and a thyroid condition could have caused the false positive for testosterone. And by the rules of the game of Tour de France, he will be given a second test. He gave two samples at the time and the second one will be tested, as well. He’s saying hold on and wait until the second one is tested until you make any judgments.
Interestingly, that test came back positive after the 17th stage, and that was the stage and the day that Landis turned in a performance that many people say was the most incredible comeback ride they’ve ever seen in the history of Tour de France. He made up an eight- minute deficit. In fact, the day before, he said he didn’t think it was even possible that he would win Tour de France. Clearly did that, overcame that, did that stage and went on to win, making him the third American after Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong to win Tour de France.
Looks like things are calming down in Madrid. We’ll see if we can listen in. All right.
Well, they’re still kind of figuring things out. I’ll also share with you that Landis is such an incredible inspiration story because of his — because of his hip. He had an accident a few years ago. He’s going to need hip replacement surgery. So he can barely walk, but he’s a champion cyclist.
They’ve cleared out and he looks a little bit dazed. Let’s see if we can hear from Floyd Landis.
KAGAN: As you can hear, they are speaking Spanish. And this is taking place in Madrid, Spain. Some questions before this got started about why Madrid. Landis is from California. The race was in France, obviously, Tour de France. And he was supposed to actually run a race or ride a race in Denmark that he pulled out of. That was supposed to be Thursday and Friday.
Our Al Goodman, our Spain bureau chief, was able to explain that there are quite a few ties to Madrid, Spain, both with the team that he rides with and also the significance. If — not for some reason — but if he does fail the second test and his title is stripped, the second place finisher in Tour de France is Spanish, so it would go to a Spaniard.
While this is all going on, Landis — well, he’s about to speak. Let’s listen.
FLOYD LANDIS, TOUR DE FRANCE CHAMPION: First of all, I’d like to thank the media for coming here today.
LANDIS: The main reason for holding this meeting is because of the information that has been spread yesterday and today, both in Europe and in the E.U. about a certain physiologic result that appeared in one of my urine samples in a test carried out during the Tour de France.
(TRANSLATION IN SPANISH)
LANDIS: To start with, this result, which is no other than an alteration in the relation of testosterone/epitestosterone, should not have made any kind of effect except to have made an endocrinologic study on behalf of the medical services of the UCI (ph).
As always, since I have cycled, my physiologic parameters of testosterone and epitestosterone are high, as of those of any other sportsman. And in special cases, as in mine, for natural reasons, this level is higher still.
LANDIS: Therefore, I would like to leave absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process. In this particular case, nobody can talk about doping and for this reason, I ask all of the media, both in Europe and in the United States, that they know how to interpret and understand where we are.
LANDIS: I understand that the administrative protocols of the UCI and WATA (ph) establish in these cases that the sportsman must undergo an endocrinologic study to determine that the levels of testosterone and epitestosterone are high, as in those of other sports, and from cycling and other sports.
LANDIS: This is what we are going to do. After all of what we have just said, I ask, first, that the case not be directly treated as a doping case.
LANDIS: Second, that in the same way as other sportsman in the world have done this, I will proceed to undergo the tests to credit the levels that I have had during the tour and all my career are absolutely natural and produced by my own organism.
LANDIS: Thirdly, until such research has been carried out to which every sportsman in the world is entitled, I ask not to be judged and much lesser, to be sentenced by anyone.
LANDIS: Consequently, I declare convincingly and categorically that my winning the Tour de France has been exclusively due to many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling to the sacrifice of an entire life to carry out my dream, a dream of thousands of kilometers that I have completed to the absolute respect to the cleanness of this sport.
LANDIS: Cleanness that I will keep respecting during my sports career, and particularly in the next competition that I will participate, since, as I inform you, my intention is to compete normally during this year, depending on when my hip operation will take place, as all of you know.
KAGAN: It looks like now they’re opening it up to question for Floyd Landis. Let’s continue listening.
LANDIS: Thank you. As far as the medical questions, I refer that to my lawyers. And, again, they are the reason that I’m here. I’m here for meetings to establish a plan, which I’ve just explained to you, about how we will explain to the world why this is not a doping case and a natural occurrence.
KAGAN: The question is being asked Spanish, and then a translator being used so that Floyd Landis, the Tour de France winner, the American, can answer. He has called this news conference to answer allegations a drug test in the 17th stage of the Tour de France. He has said that he has naturally high testosterone levels, and it was for a high level of testosterone that he tested. He said it happens naturally in his body. He said this is not a doping process. It shouldn’t be treated as that. He’s asking that that’s how it be treated, and he says he will cooperate with any kind of testing need in order to prove that his body naturally produces an abnormal amount of testosterone. He is entitled to another round of tests before he would be stripped of his title from Tour de France.
I want to let you know that Floyd Landis, who’s there at the news conference right there in Madrid, Spain. He’s going to be Larry’s guest, Larry King’s guest, so that’s a CNN exclusive in primetime, and that’s tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
KAGAN: Let’s go back and listen to more questions and answers from Floyd Landis.
LANDIS: What has happened here is out of my control. And so impact this has on the Tour de France is not any of my doing.
LANDIS: As you know, Oscar was a teammate of mine, Barerro (ph), in the last year. And Sossa (ph), like Oscar, is respected in Beleton (ph), both which have only friends. And I appreciate any words of confidence from them.
LANDIS: We will request the B sample immediately, and I will have a representative there to be sure that everything is done correctly. When — the exact of which it is done, I do not know. I will request it immediately.
QUESTION: Do you think that will be within days or a week, Floyd?
LANDIS: I’ll request it within the next hours. Less than days. As to when the test is completed, I cannot say.
QUESTION: Do you think that the test would be done in days or that the other sample would be public within days or weeks? You’re going to request it right away…
LANDIS: I apologize…
QUESTION: Whether it will be public after it’s executed? Just when will the public know how the B sample is?
LANDIS: The public will know immediately when the B sample is tested. I see no reason to wait on that.
QUESTION: But the process could still take several days or weeks, as far as you know?
LANDIS: I don’t think weeks, but maybe other people have more experience with that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
KAGAN: American Tour de France winner Floyd Landis saying he expects to be tested again in a matter of hours. He is saying that he has a naturally high level of testosterone levels. He says his body produces it naturally. He says this is not a doping process, and he says he will cooperate fully to prove that this is just the way his body works.
He is threatened with losing his title as Tour de France champion. If it is stripped, a Spaniard will then get the title. This coming from Madrid, Spain.
We’re going to continue to listen to these questions and answers for the champion cyclist and turn our coverage over to our sister network, CNN International.
LANDIS: I’ve been directed from my lawyers as to what we will do next, and I think he can explain to you the process.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Floyd Landis’ attorney speaks in Spanish, a reminder to our English-speaking viewers that Floyd Landis will be speaking entirely in English in the hours to come. He’ll be appearing on “LARRY KING LIVE’s ” next edition. And we hope you’ll join us for that.
But, once again, if you’re just joining us, Floyd Landis, the champion of this year’s Tour de France, is speaking to reporters in Madrid, saying that he has never been involved in any doping process, that all through his years of training, he’s devoted himself to clean achievement in cycling, and that his high testosterone levels are naturally occurring in his case, and in the case of many other sportsmen, he said.
His lawyer, now speaking in Spanish, is explaining the legal steps that he plans to take as part of a longer effort that he’s only alluding to in the vaguest of terms to prove medically that he did not resort to artificial means to win the tour.
CANDY REID, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Jonathan, I think it’s interesting to say that Landis was asked about the medical implications, and he did refer that, in fact, to his lawyer. He really didn’t want to comment on that, did he?
MANN: What we’re watching here is a very particular thing, not only a man who is reputed to be a very clean figure in a sport that has been hit over and over again by allegations of doping, but also a man whose victory in the Tour de France may be medically the last one he’s ever capable of.
Even before these allegations of a testosterone problem, Floyd Landis was known to have a degenerative hip condition. He’s scheduled to go under surgery to get a new artificial hip. It’s not clear if he will ever race again. He is defending the only Tour championship potentially he may ever have a chance at.
REID: And going back to that hip operation, he has been having injections of cortisone it’s said, a medically-used steroid drug, to treat pain for that hip which he has to have replaced very soon, but that is said to not increase his levels of testosterone.
MANN: Let’s listen in once again from Madrid.
LANDIS: Yes, I was equally as surprised as everyone else was. And which day it occurred I don’t think has any irony. I was tested six other times during the Tour, and 14 other times during the beginning of the season in every other race I did. So, where it came up, I don’t know what relevance that has.
MANN: While the translation continues in Spanish, this is an important point he’s making. He tested positive for testosterone only once.
Testosterone is not a drug you take on Monday to boost your performance on Tuesday. If it’s in your system, it’s in your system for an awfully long time. It works over the course of weeks.
So I suppose, Candy Reid, that will be one of the arguments being made in his favor.
REID: Well, I think absolutely. Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has said this is one of the reasons he’s very surprised. He said it just really doesn’t add up.
LANDIS: … the best ride I could do. I was the strongest guy on the stage and in the race. And I deserve to win.
I was determined to win. I set out that day to win the stage. I didn’t know about gaining any time. My goal was to win the stage, and I’m proud of it.
LANDIS: I can say only what I experienced and what I know, and that that is that the day before I didn’t ride nearly as hard as the other guys.
MANN: Once again, drawing attention to a very particular turnaround that raised eyebrows at the time, but really just excited the world of cycling. Stage 16, Floyd Landis collapsed. He lost an enormous amount of time, so much so that on that day he said he could never recover and win the tour.
Stage 17, he caught up, what was it, Candy, eight minutes? Which is unheard of in the world of the Tour de France.
REID: Well, that’s why I think a few eyebrows are raised, Jonathan, because after the 17th stage, that is when he had this positive test for high levels of testosterone which made people think, you know, was he using? Of course, Landis has told the media that we should not call it doping. He said this was a natural occurrence of high levels of testosterone.
MANN: We’re watching the chemistry. We’re watching the calendar. And we’re listening as Floyd Landis makes his case to the world media, saying once again, “I desired to win. I set out to win.” And he has never, he said, been involved in doping.
REID: And this gentleman is answering questions for Landis regarding medical questions. Landis really not prepared to answer questions on those issues. Instead, handing it over to his lawyer, who he says instructed him to make this press conference so that the public can hear what he has to say.
Landis says he is innocent. He says don’t call it doping. He says this is a natural occurrence for testosterone, and he really wants his chance to prove he’s innocent.
We are expecting a B sample, and hopefully we will hear the results of that early next week.
REID: Of course, Jonathan, at this point if it is another positive test, then Phonak say they will fire the 2006 Tour de France winner, and most likely he’ll have his title taken away from him.
LANDIS: No, I haven’t read the newspapers. I came here to tell you my point of view. As far as other people’s speculation, that has no value for me.
LANDIS: I can say that when I heard them I was surprised and disappointed that this process would begin, but I’m confident as ever and I’m proud of the fact that I won the tour, because I was the strongest guy there. And that’s my position.
LANDIS: That would be speculation on my part. I don’t think that’s wise.
REID: Jonathan, I think it’s fair to say that Landis is being very, very cautious on what he says.
MANN: Landis is a veteran of international cycling, but this is not a world he knows well. He grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country in the United States, the child of a devout Mennonite family. He’s been a cyclist his whole life, but all of a sudden now he’s becoming both a champion and a very challenged figure in the international media.
At the same time, he’ll be working through attorneys, he’ll be working through medical specialists. His career has changed dramatically in barely more than a week’s time from being a journeyman cyclist to one of the most famous athletes in the world, and now potentially to one of the most discredited men in sports.
REID: Absolutely. He was rather known as Lance Armstrong’s understudy, wasn’t he, while it — while Lance Armstrong, which he helped to win one of the seven tours that Armstrong won?
MANN: Well, a hastily-organized news conference. Stop and go, moving between Spanish and English.
But, Candy Reid, as we’ve been watching, I guess the headline here very clearly is Floyd Landis not taking this news sitting down.
REID: Oh, absolutely. He says he’s innocent, and he has said that. He even said he was very surprised, actually, when this sample tested positive for high levels of testosterone.
He says, please, give me a chance to prove I’m innocent. We are hoping that a B sample, the result of a B sample will come out early next week and we’ll know more about this. But he said in that press conference, didn’t he, that it was natural — natural occurrences of high testosterone?
And again, he said he was very, very surprised about this. Cycling is at this moment struggling for credibility. And we’ve see Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich implicated in a Spanish doping scandal. They didn’t even start the Tour de France. And now you’ve got the winner here implicated with another positive test, as we said, for high levels of testosterone.
And as you’ve said, Jonathan, several times, he is known as a clean rider.
MANN: One of the most extraordinary comebacks in a sport. One of the most storied performances in the history of the Tour de France.
Floyd Landis, a man who cyclists counted out after the 16th day of the race because his performance was so disastrous that day, came back on the 17th, astounded people with an incredible burst of energy. And now that burst of energy tied to a testosterone test later in the day is really raising questions about whether he was artificially boosting his performance. REID: And, of course, it will be interesting to hear, won’t it? Landis is talking to “LARRY KING LIVE” later this Friday. So it will be very interesting to see what he says to Larry. Of course, that will be in English, so we’ll be able to understand it.
MANN: A race that famously ends on the Champs-Elysees is not entirely over. The number one finisher, Floyd Landis, on the stage defending the yellow jersey, potentially maybe going to lose it, not because of his performance on the road, but because of now an examination that’s going to be held in a laboratory.
Candy Reid, thanks very much for being with us through this coverage.