In e-mail messages, News finds disgraced Floyd Landis rides aloneafter doping accusations
BYNathaniel VintonDAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITERSaturday, July 10th 2010, 6:08 PM
The e-mail message that arrived inFloyd Landis' inbox on the morning of June 4, almost a month after heconfessed to doping and accusedLance Armstrongand others of doing the same, was signed with the initials "HV."Other than that, it consisted of just one insulting sentence: "Mr. Landis, you're not worth any further word or attention except perhaps from psychiatrists."The sender was not an American cycling fan defending Armstrong's honor. Nor was "HV" one of the many peoplewhom Landis had gulled into donating to a legal defense fund he set up in 2006 in an unsuccessful attempt tooverturn his suspension for a positive testosterone test at theTour de France.No, "HV" wasHein Verbruggen, an honorary member of theInternational Olympic Committeeand for decades the
highest-ranked official in cycling. Debonair, multilingual, and adept at sports politics, the Dutch-born Verbruggenrelinquished the presidency of cycling's international governing body in 2005, not long after the IOC had tapped himto evaluateBeijing's preparations for the2008 Summer Games.
In short, Verbruggen was one of the most powerful people in international sports, but here he was firing off digitalnastygrams to someone who, whatever his flaws might be, could soon prove to be the most importantwhistleblower cycling has seen yet.It was nearly the equivalent of former baseball commissioner Fay Vincentresponding to "Juiced,"Jose Canseco's
blockbuster tell-all of the Steroid Era, by prank calling the author.And the recommendation of psychiatric care wasn't the first note Verbruggen sent Landis. Two days earlier, onJune 2, Verbruggen taunted Landis by sending a link to a sportswriter's column that took Landis to task for havingquestioned the ethics of anti-doping agencies during the arbitration fight over his positive test four years earlier."I did not want to accept the risk that you would miss this article," Verbruggen wrote to Landis. "After reading youmight, together with me, conclude that if being a nuisance to (many) other people would be the main objective of your life you succeed so well that you should still get a yellow jersey (this time WELL DESERVED!!)."The yellow jersey, of course, is the shirt traditionally worn by the leader of the Tour de France. Currently it belongstoFrenchman Sylvain Chavanel, but Armstrong, riding in what he says is his final Tour, hopes to get control of it inthe next two weeks. Landis is inCalifornia, watching the race on TV in between conversations with his lawyers.Verbruggen's taunting notes to Landis are part of a series of e-mails obtained by the Daily News that shed somenew light on the isolation that Landis risked with his accusations (although he has apparently made some newfriends in law enforcement). They also provide a few clues about approaches federal investigators may be taking asthey begin probing the sport Verbruggen oversaw through the 1980s and 1990s.Among the e-mails is one that Landis sent directly to Armstrong on May 5, calling the Tour de France racesArmstrong won in 2002, 2003, and 2004 the three races in which Landis was one of Armstrong's supportingteammates a "fraud perpetrated on the public" and promising Armstrong he would soon go public with accusationsthat Armstrong and their teammates cheated."My only goal in enlightening the public and the press regarding these matters is to clear my conscience andthereafter be able to sleep at night," Landis wrote in the e-mail to Armstrong. "I'm certainly not oblivious to the fact
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