Coach speaks about Landis
August 3, 2006
Chris Carmichael knows the story all too well.Lance Armstrong’s friend and longtime coach remembers the controversy that swirled around Armstrong during his unprecedented run of seven straight Tour de France victories. And while he never coached Floyd Landis, he is well aware of what the embattled Tour winner is facing.The International Cycling Union revealed earlier this week that Landis’ urine sample, collected shortly after his improbable Stage 17 victory, contained synthetic testosterone. The finding contradicted the rider’s initial claim that a spike in his testosterone levels was the result of natural causes. Landis’ ultimate fate will be determined Saturday, when his B sample results are scheduled to be released.While the rider has been branded in the media and in the public, Carmichael said Thursday in an interview with The Aspen Times that he has chosen to reserve judgment on the matter – at least for now.
“It’s the A sample. There’s due process that all athletes deserve and have the right to have,” said Carmichael, president and CEO of Carmichael Training Systems. “I know after having been through a lot of allegations with Lance that what may look very damming initially can change once you know the background behind it.”I only know what everyone else does, but what I’m reading sure is disturbing and disappointing.”Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor who dominated the Tour from 1999 until 2005, was constantly plagued by widespread rumors in newspapers and other media outlets. A 2005 article in the French newspaper L’Equipe produced documents that alleged that six urine samples Armstrong provided after his first Tour title in 1999 showed traces of the banned red-blood cell producer erythropoietin, or EPO. The article, titled “The Armstrong Lie,” claimed the positive results came from urine B samples. The claims, which remain wholly unsubstantiated, came nearly one year after former L’Equipe journalist Pierre Ballester co-authored the book “L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong.””Unfortunately, the witch hunt continues…,” Armstrong wrote in a response printed on his website. “I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles.””Things got pretty personal for Lance,” Carmichael remembered. “But they have yet to hold any water. I know Lance. I know he doesn’t use performance-enhancing drugs. It’s never something he did.
“I never coached Floyd, but there was nothing in his personality that would indicate he would be an athlete that doped. From what I gathered, he was likable and seemed to be very honest.”Carmichael expressed deep concern regarding the leak of Landis’ name by the International Cycling Union, which he said violated long-standing guidelines. Such a move, regardless of what the impending results will prove, have already succeeded in defaming Landis’ integrity and character.”Very probably, the B will support the A as we all suspect. But if it comes back and we find out the sample was somehow corrupted, this athlete has been tarnished,” Carmichael said.News concerning Landis surfaced nearly one month after a Spanish doping ring was uncovered on the eve of the Tour. High-profile cyclists like Jan Ullrich of Germany, and Italy’s Ivan Basso were among 58 riders implicated in the ring. Four of the top-five Tour finishers behind Armstrong in 2005 were out of this year’s field. While he acknowledged that cycling is currently reeling, Carmichael said he supports the measures authorities have taken to clean up the sport.”I support the aggressive steps that are being taken, and I encourage them to be even more aggressive,” he said. “It’s the only way you’re going to eliminate doping in the sport.
“Cycling is taking a hard rap right now, but I believe in this sport.”Carmichael is confident the sport can overcome recent adversity. And he said he’s hopeful Landis – Armstrong’s former teammate with the U.S. Postal Service – is cleared.The world will find out this weekend.”I really hope he’s not found positive and he’s the Tour’s rightful winner,” Carmichael said. “If not, he needs to be accountable.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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