Floyd Landis announces retirement from cycling
2006 TDF champ stripped of title for doping believes sport "cannot be fixed"
Floyd Landis, who remains – for now, at least – the only winner of the Tour de France to have subsequently been stripped of his title for doping, has announced his retirement from cycling with immediate effect.
The American tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone after a storming ride to win Stage 16 of the race, although news of his positive test only broke after the conclusion of the Tour in Paris, where Landis stood on top of the Champs-Elysées podium in the maillot jaune.
Now, the 35-year-old who has struggled to find a job after finally confessing to his own past doping last May, when he also levelled allegations regarding systemic use of performance enhancing drugs by former team mate Lance Armstrong and other members of the US Postal Service team, has told ESPN.com that he has decided to retire from the sport.
Armstrong has consistently denied the allegations, and Landis himself has been criticised for his sudden confession after spending more than three years trying to clear his name, his legal battle partly funded by fans who believed – misguidedly, it turns out – in his innocence.
"I've spent five years trying to get back to a place that I can never really go back to, and it's causing more stress than is worth it," explained Landis, who spent his life savings on his defence and also saw his marriage end in divorce. "There must be more to life than this,” he added.
The former US Postal Service and Phonak Hearing Systems, who returned to the sport with the OUCH team for the 2009 season and rode some races last year as an unaffiliated rider, continued: "I've been riding my bike a lot, trying to figure out life, which is the same reason I did it to start with, so I've come full circle.
“I'll always ride my bike. But I'll never start on a line on a road and try to get to another line on a road faster than another guy. That's over."
Landis told ESPN that he had thought about giving up cycling on a number of occasions during the past few months,"but I just couldn't follow through with it."
Now, however, in a particularly symbolic gesture given his own history, Landis has informed Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, that he wishes to have his name removed from the list of athletes liable to be tested for drugs.
"I don't want it to come across that I'm quitting because I'm bitter," Landis added, although he revealed that he believed that it was now impossible to defeat the scourge of doping in cycling.
"I'm relatively sure this sport cannot be fixed, but that's not my job, that's not my fight," he concluded.