Armstrong says he has nothing to hide

Updated: May 21, 2010, 11:08 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

VISALIA, Calif. -- Lance Armstrong dismissed claims by Floyd Landis that Armstrong had been involved in doping during his cycling career.

"I have nothing to hide," Armstrong said at a hastily called news conference outside of his bus prior to the fifth stage of the Tour of California, which Armstrong was competing in before a crash forced him to withdraw on Thursday.

Armstrong added: "I think history speaks for itself here."

With his longtime coach Johan Bruyneel standing next to him, Armstrong said Landis seemingly pointed the finger at everyone still involved in the sport.

"We have nothing to hide," Armstrong said. "We have nothing to run from."

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drug test, admitted Wednesday to ESPN.com's Bonnie D. Ford that he had used performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career as a professional road cyclist. He also claimed that Armstrong and Bruyneel paid an International Cycling Union official to cover up a test in 2002 after Armstrong purportedly tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO.

ESPN and other media outlets obtained e-mails sent by Landis to cycling and anti-doping officials over the past few weeks, implicating dozens of other athletes, including seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong, team management and owners, and officials of the sport's national and international governing bodies.

"He put everyone in the crosshairs, not just himself," Armstrong said. "The guy in the yellow jersey in this race [current Tour of California leader Dave Zabriskie] is in the crosshairs and that's not by accident."

Among the charges in the e-mails: Armstrong had provided Landis with erythropoietin (commonly known as EPO) and he had worked with Armstrong's personal trainer. Landis also said he and Armstrong discussed the efficacy of the then-newly developed test for EPO in 2002.

The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday if Landis has proof of doping by Armstrong, he should provide it to the relevant authorities.

John Fahey, in an interview with The Associated Press in Brisbane, Australia, said if there is any substance to the allegations, either the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency or International Cycling Union should act.

Fahey said "there will always be rumors" about Armstrong. Armstrong has long been dogged by accusations he used performance-enhancing drugs, but no anti-doping authority has ever confirmed that he tested positive.

"I'd say I am a little surprised but I am not," Armstrong said Thursday. He also said that Landis has been threatening to make the e-mails public "for a long time."

He said he isn't interested in pursuing legal action against Landis.

"Legal action takes time and a lot of money. I've sued a few people in my time successfully. I don't have to do that again," Armstrong said.

Bruyneel denied Landis' allegations and said the timing of the admission is no coincidence, coming during the Tour of California.

"I've always known Floyd as an angry person ... somebody who's basically angry with the world," Bruyneel said. "To me it sounds like he just wants to drag down people who are still there and enjoying this."

"It's very sad," Armstrong said. "At one point or another, all of us implicated have cared about Floyd. We might have been on different teams or from different backgrounds in our lives, but at some point or another we shared the bond that we all gave Floyd a ladder. When he dug himself in a hole, we gave him a ladder to dig out of ... now people aren't throwing ladders at him anymore." Armstrong said Landis started sending text messages to him a few years ago. Armstrong said the texts got "annoying."

Armstrong said he told Landis, "Leave me alone. Do what you have to do."

Armstrong also said he found it ironic Landis' story has changed after two years of claiming his innocence.

"It's our word against his word," Armstrong said. "I like our word. We like our credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago."

Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said Armstrong was evaluated in the team bus by doctors who gave him eight stitches below his left eye after Thursday's crash on the Tour of California. Armstrong then was taken to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital for precautionary X-rays, which were negative.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jim Caple and The Associated Press is included in this report.