ROTTERDAM // Lance Armstrong said he is too busy to pay attention to the latest allegations by former teammate Floyd Landis that he has engaged in doping during his career. Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, gave The Wall Street Journal new details about his use of banned doping products in a story published yesterday and accused Armstrong and his teammates of receiving blood transfusions during the 2004 Tour.
In a statement sent to The Associated Press through his manager a few hours before the start of the Tour de France in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, seven-time Tour winner Armstrong described the claims by Landis as "a carton of sour milk: once you take the first sip, you don't have to drink the rest to know it has all gone bad." Landis told the newspaper that some of the bikes provided to Armstrong's team were sold in order to help the US Postal team fund his doping program.
"Today's The Wall Street Journal article is full of false accusations and more of the same old news from Floyd Landis, a person with zero credibility and an established pattern of recanting tomorrow what he swears to today," Armstrong said. Landis also claimed in May that Armstrong tested positive for the banned endurance-booster EPO at the Tour de Suisse in 2002 and paid off former International Cycling Union boss Hein Verbruggen to keep it quiet. Armstrong won the 2001 Swiss race, but did not compete there in 2002.
Armstrong, who is competing in his last Tour, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The Tour started yesterday with an 8.9-kilometre prologue and Armstrong questioned the timing of the article. "For years, sensational stories based on the allegations of axe-grinders have surfaced on the eve of the Tour for publicity reasons, and this article is simply no different," Armstrong said. "Lastly, I have too much work to do during this, my final Tour, and then after my retirement in my continued fight against cancer, to add any attention to this predictable pre-Tour sensationalism."
According to The Wall Street Journal, three other, though unnamed, former US Postal riders told the newspaper in interviews that there was doping on the team when Armstrong was leader. However, the newspaper also reported that several other riders said they never observed doping practices in the squad. Armstrong, 38, and Landis rode together for three years with the US Postal team. The allegations have reportedly drawn the attention of US government investigators.