Apparently, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, it does make a sound. It’s the same thing as in a bike race when a guy rides faster than everyone else only when he passes the finish line he gets a different type of award.
The difference is that it costs… everything.
So with that, Floyd Landis, one of the sports world’s greatest pariahs, ended his career as a professional bicycling racer. A native of the backwoods hinterlands of Lancaster County, approximately a hilly, 60 miles bike ride west of Philadelphia, Landis won the 2006 Tour de France only to be stripped of his title two days afterwards. Nearly five years after his greatest race, Landis was stripped of his title, his life savings, got a divorce, mourned the suicide of his father-in-law, lost teams, teammates and friends, and, on top of it all, had his career destroyed.
Landis’ victory lap turned into a book tour and benefit to raise cash for his legal defense of a failed doping test taken shortly after a seemingly heroic ride in Stage 17 of the Tour de France.
Yet after two years of racing sporadically for a handful of middling racing teams, Landis told ESPN’s Bonnie D. Ford that he had filed his papers with his former adversaries, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and no longer has to submit to further drug testing. In other words, Landis will be treated like a U.S. citizen for a change.
According to Ford, Landis grew increasingly frustrated with re-carving a niche in the sport in which he devoted his life. He spent 2009 riding for the U.S.-based United Healthcare team before he was released from his contract, stating that he wished to race in the longer, European stage races which suit his strengths. Landis latched on with Rock Racing only to see the team fail to gain a pro racing license, before finding a spot with the Bahati Foundation Cycling Team with the hope of racing the Tour of California.
However, when Landis decided to reveal his sordid history with doping, and revealed the alleged dopers in his sport—including Lance Armstrong—he was without a team again.
“I’ve spent five years trying to get back to a place that I can never really go back to, and it’s causing more stress than is worth it," Landis told Ford. “There must be more to life than this.”
But does that eliminate Landis from more witch hunts where he is both the hunted and the hunter? Far from it. Landis’ allegations against Armstrong, his inner circle, cycling officials and race directors of the alleged systematic, drug-aided run of Tour de France victories, were toxic enough to draw an investigation from federal prosecutors. A U.S. Justice Department-backed grand jury in Los Angeles has subpoenaed several of Landis’ and Armstrong’s teammates and fellow riders.
Just to prove he wasn’t kidding around, Landis filed a “whistle-blower” lawsuit last September and has met with federal investigators and doping officials.
In other words, Landis may not be riding his bike in races any more, but he won’t be far from the spotlight. Since the investigation into the doping allegations comes from Landis’ and Armstrong’s days of riding with the U.S. Postal Service team, a government agency whose funds are considered public, could be deemed as fraud or conspiracy against the United States. Undoubtedly, there are many folks—especially Armstrong—who are anxiously awaiting the results of the grand jury.
About the suit, a spokesman for Armstrong told The Wall Street Journal:
“By his own admission, he is a serial liar, an epic cheater, and a swindler who raised and took almost a million dollars from his loyal fans based on his lies. What remains a complete mystery is why the government would devote a penny of the taxpayer’s money to help Floyd Landis further his vile, cheating ambitions. And all aimed directly at Lance Armstrong, a man who earned every victory and passed every test while working for cancer survivors all over the world.”
No, Landis did not respond with, “Takes one to know one.”