Cyclist Floyd Landis, who this week dropped his longtime protestations of innocence and confessed to doping throughout his career, took another step toward what he views as making amends on Saturday by apologizing to three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond for a sordid incident that took place at the hearing where Landis tried to overturn the positive test result that cost him his 2006 Tour title.
LeMond was slated to testify during the May 2007 hearing about a phone conversation he'd had with Landis the previous August in which he said Landis tacitly admitted he had doped.
On the night before LeMond was supposed to appear at the hearing, he received an anonymous call threatening to reveal that he had been sexually molested as a child by a family friend -- a subject LeMond had raised in his original conversation with Landis in August 2006 as a means to talk about the destructive power of secrets.
The call was traced that night to Landis' personal manager, Will Geoghegan. The next day, in a moment that shocked everyone in the Pepperdine University courtroom, attorney Matt Barnett, representing the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, placed LeMond's BlackBerry underneath an overhead projector and displayed the mystery caller's number.
Landis and his lawyers fired Geoghegan on the spot. In an interview with ESPN.com last Wednesday, Landis said the call was not his doing, but he took responsibility for his longtime friend's actions.
Both Landis and LeMond said they wanted to keep details of the conversation private. LeMond declined to be interviewed by ESPN.com but confirmed in an e-mail that Landis had called him on Friday.
"I did have a conversation with Floyd and he did apologize for his treatment of me before and after the 2007 hearings," LeMond said.
"I accepted his apology, but that isn't really what's important. Sincere apologies are for those that make them, not for those to whom they are made. I hope that as a result Floyd can begin rebuilding his life.
"I also accepted his apology because his treatment of me challenged me to further confront my own issues and the pain that they were causing me. That challenge has made me a better, healthier, stronger person today than I might have otherwise been. Certainly, my 1 in 6 Foundation has been an outgrowth of that situation and has helped and will continue to help many survivors. For that I'm grateful."
LeMond is a founding board member of the 1 in 6 Foundation, which supports men who experienced childhood sexual abuse.
"More people should apologize, and more people should accept apologies when sincerely made," LeMond said.
When Landis was asked about the 2007 incident during a lengthy interview with ESPN.com last Wednesday, he said he had been contemplating whether to contact LeMond. "I really have felt bad about what happened in that hearing, and for what it's worth, I'd really like to call him and tell him and let him know that,'' Landis said.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com.