Floyd Landis (Farmersville, USA, 43 years old) won the Tour de France on July 23, 2006, an edition that that day was still marked by his marvelous exhibition of three days before, when he won in Morzine after a break of 130 kilometers. But on July 27 it was learned that he had given positive for testosterone in that same stage and began to lose a yellow jersey that lasted four days. He undertook a long legal battle that left him defeated, ruined and alone, drinking a bottle of whiskey a day in a cabin in the bush. He also denounced Lance Armstrongand that fight won it. The Texan saw his seven Tours and Landis disappear, already with a new girlfriend after his divorce, father and with a business of pain products made with cannabidol, Floyd's of Leadville, it collected 1.1 million dollars. After all that, Landis returns to cycling sponsoring in Canada a team of continental category, a kind of professional second division, and converses with EL PAÍS through the telephone.
Question. Why after so long fleeing cycling do you decide to join a team now?
Answer. Cycling in North America is suffering from lack of funding. I thought it would be fun to participate in a team of young runners, in training. It's a different level. They are young riders who compete in continental races. The WorldTour circuit of European races [primera división] It is still a big disappointment to me. But I like to be with the young guys and give them advice.
P. Have you thought about what you will do if your cyclists find a doping environment like yours?
"Considering everything that happened to me, it's a bad decision to use drugs, but it's the reality that there is "
R. We try to create a situation in which we can advise you on the decisions you will have to make. But on the continental level I do not think it's much of a problem. Doping is not a necessity as it is in Europe. I'm not going to encourage you to go to the WorldTour level, but if you do, you will have to face those decisions. And I think we can give you some good advice. Although it will depend on them.
P. What would you say if you were to compete in WorldTour?
R. I would say: "Look, this is what you are going to find, these are the decisions that you are going to have to make. Considering everything that happened to me and the cyclists of the US Postal, it is a bad decision to use drugs, but on the other hand, it is the reality that exists ". But at the level that they are going to compete we are going to encourage them to do it in the right way.
P. Will he use the money he earned for Armstrong for the team? [unos 960.000 euros]?
R. Yes, I have taken all the money I received in the agreement and I will put it on the team. I want it to be a kind of symbol that we all make decisions and we would like to recognize what happened and leave the past behind.
P. When Alejandro Valverde won the World Cup On September 30, he was asked about Operation Puerto, for which he was sanctioned, and complained and said that they should not ask him about it because it was "past water". What do you think?
"When the press decides that you are guilty, it destroys your life and there is nothing you can do to undo it "
R. Is right. The problem is that it is always the runners who are forced to talk about the corrupt system, and corruption begins with the AMA [Agencia Mundial Antidopaje]. And the AMA is a totally corrupt organization: its function is to protect the Olympic Committee. And they sit in their ivory tower and make the sportsmen dance when they say "dance", and the athletes are always the ones who have to pay. It is clear in what happened to the Russian Federation and its laboratory. The only people that were asked for accounts were the athletes, and that is completely unfair. [Valverde] He's right: he should not have to talk until the AMA talks about his corruption. The Olympic Committee uses athletes as merchandise, as disposable. So to think that he has to talk about that, with that level of corruption, and bear the guilt, is unfair and it's nonsense.
P. What feelings has your own case left?
R. For a long time I felt that everything had been unfair. And even today: it's unfair, but enough time has passed and I'm fine. But the sad part is that my career was destroyed and Armstrong's career was destroyed. And nothing changed, because the AMA does not want it to change.
P. Yale University rejected him because of his past. Can you start from scratch?
R. It is impossible. When the press decides that you are guilty, it destroys your life and there is nothing you can do to undo it. I am in a good situation, I have a good business and I have understood how to handle it. But other people have not been so lucky. Some are killed by that kind of public humiliation. The heart of the problem is that the Olympic Committee is not concerned about the health of athletes.
P. Do you have good memories of when I ran?
R. I do not think much about it, because it comes with many bad experiences, everything is too mixed. I enjoyed running on a bicycle, I saw the world, but the part of the competition seems like rubbish.
P. Has not the system changed anything?
R. It is impossible for me to change. There is no one who can ask for an account. As long as cyclists continue to suffer for it, it will remain unfair. At some point people should look at the reality, which is that the system was built so that the people who are at the top should never be held accountable.
P. Is cycling the same as in 2006?
R. Of course it is. Anyone with two eyes can see it.
P. It's been more than ten years. How do you imagine the next ten?
R. Better. I have a four-year-old daughter, and my girlfriend. I have a good business. I focus on that and try not to think much about racing. I think the cycling team will be a positive thing to share with young people my experiences and the decisions I made.
P. Have you thought about what it will be like when your daughter grows up and asks about her past?
R. I do not worry about anything. I will tell you the decisions I made and why. Considering how professional cycling works, there was no other option. If you want to ride a bike and win big races, you know what to do. Nothing has changed. They punished me for that. My daughter will be smart enough to understand it. It does not worry me.