Floyd Landis is using money he earned by taking down Lance Armstrong to start his own cycling team.
The man whose own doping saga cost him the 2006 Tour de France title and eventually helped expose Armstrong’s cheating says he’s building a developmental team for 2019 that will be based out of Canada.
He says this is his way of trying to rebuild trust inside a cycling community that has viewed him skeptically since he lied about taking performance enhancers in a much-publicized hearing in 2007.
“That’s the main motivation of the whole thing,” Landis said in an interview with The Associated Press. “A lot of things were said about me, and a lot was justified. A lot was PR from people who didn’t like the fact I exposed (the doping). One of the main arguments was, `He ran out of money and that’s why he did it.’ It was never the case. But there’s no way to disprove that, and if people don’t believe me now, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Three years after losing his doping case, Landis provided key information about his own doping and that of Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team, all of which led to Armstrong’s lifetime ban.
Landis is using part of the proceeds from Armstrong’s lawsuit settlement with the government to fund the team. Landis and his legal team split around $2.75 million off the settlement because he brought a whistleblower lawsuit that triggered the case.
Now 42, Landis runs a business in the Colorado mountains, Floyd’s of Leadville, that specializes in marijuana and hemp-based products that are designed to relieve chronic pain.
His company will sponsor the new cycling team, which will take some riders from Silber Pro, a team out of Canada run by former teammate Gord Fraser that is shutting down at the end of this year. The team will also open opportunities for other young riders whose teams were dismantled after losing sponsors.
Landis is well aware his detractors will shake their head at his attempt to get back into the cycling game.
“I don’t like ridicule, obviously, and sometimes it looks like I’m looking for it,” he said. “I hope I can convince everyone that I’m contrite, I’m living my life, and hopefully they can let it go. Most people in cycling know that any support they can get for the sport is good and helpful. This gives me a chance to show them I can run a good team in an ethical way, and gives me a chance to show I know what I’m doing.”