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Hein Verbruggen Threatened Floyd Landis

Hein Verbruggen Threatened Floyd Landis

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Published by Cycling Fan
Hein Verbruggen is one of the characters particularly nervous about Landis' allegation. This is not surprising since the doping case is building considerable momentum not only in the U.S but also internationally. These characters stand a lot to lose in terms of reputation, credibility and money. The whistleblowing, if true, could also lead to jail time for the head honchos of the sport.
Hein Verbruggen is one of the characters particularly nervous about Landis' allegation. This is not surprising since the doping case is building considerable momentum not only in the U.S but also internationally. These characters stand a lot to lose in terms of reputation, credibility and money. The whistleblowing, if true, could also lead to jail time for the head honchos of the sport.

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Published by: Cycling Fan on Jul 11, 2010
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07/25/2010

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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
In e-mail messages, News finds disgraced Floyd Landis rides alone after ...http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2010/07/10/2010-07-1...1 of 311/07/2010 00:16
 
that the thought of this could cause you and many others considerable anxiety and am sympathetic to your reactionbut need to remind you that I don't react well to threats or bullying and see no good outcome if that continues."Two weeks later, the world learned that Landis had indeed implicated Armstrong in blood doping, performance-enhancing drug use, and bribery. Armstrong immediately disputed Landis' claims, and cast aspersions on hiscredibility an easy target, given that Landis spent four years denying that he doped before suddenly admitting it.Since then, Armstrong's camp has used tactics thatRoger Clemensonce used withBrian McNamee, dropping hints about Landis and alcohol abuse (Rick Reillyof ESPNquoted Armstrong's longtime svengali,Johan Bruyneel, saying Landis "drank too much"). And Verbruggen's successor at the UCI,Pat McQuaid, has followed Verbruggen'sapproach, attacking Landis for "seeking to make as much damage as possible."Meanwhile one person who seems willing to listen to Landis' extremely vivid and detailed accounts (and follow upon them) isFood and Drug Administrationcriminal investigatoJeff Novitzky. When Novitzky was with theInternal Revenue Service, he uncovered both theBALCOdoping ring and the steroid-distribution networkKirk Radomski had set up inMajor League Baseball.
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Of course, Verbruggen had reasons to be so upset in early June. A month earlier, Landis had send an e-mail toAmerican cycling officialSteve Johnsontelling Johnson that Armstrong had told Landis he bribed Verbruggen tosuppress a positive drug test when Verbruggen was the president of theInternational Cycling Union, or UCI.Verbruggen vigorously denies the claim (and told the Daily News his e-mails to Landis were borne of frustrationover what he calls a false accusation). He denied taking Armstrong's side in the dispute. "The truth is we did NOTcover up," he said.Only two days after Landis sent the April 30 e-mail to Johnson, Landis received a cease-and-desist letter fromPhilippe Verbiest, a Belgian attorney writing on behalf of both Verbruggen and the UCI, calling the statement aboutthe cover up "false and malicious and defamatory" and demanding that Landis withdraw it."I summon you to withdraw your above statement immediately with all persons to which you made it," the attorney,Philippe Verbiest, wrote, threatening legal action. "The present summons is sent to you as a matter of urgency inorder to enable you to avoid further damage."Landis responded with a long message to Verbiest in which he copied Armstrong, McQuaid, and several others. Hewrote "this is America and people have a right to free speech." Landis then proceeded to describe an episodeinvolving a close Armstrong backer,Jim Ochowicz, a former cycling official who now owns the BMC Racing team.Landis wrote that in 2005 Ochowicz advised him to set up a secret bank account through theSwiss bank UBStoavoid American taxes on his salary."While Mr. Ochowitz served as advisor for thePhonakteam he introduced me to a financial advisor from UBS whilewe were inZurichand the two advised me to and advised me how to deposit my paycheck into the UBS bank inorder to avoid ever having to pay federal tax in theUnited States," Landis wrote Verbiest. "I never took their verypoor advice but only bring it to your attention to enlighten you to the good possibility that Mr. Verbugen and Mr.Armstrong could easily have made a financial agreement without any evidence thereof."Through a spokesperson, Ochowicz declined to comment on the allegation. Ochowicz is currently with his team atthe Tour de France. He has denied Landis' earlier claim that he had knowledge of Landis' doping on Phonak, theteam Landis competed for in 2005 and 2006.According to two sources with close knowledge of the investigation, Landis has told Novitzky about thatconversation with Ochowicz. Whatever Landis said, he has to be prepared to stand by it; lying to a federalinvestigator is illegal, as track star Marion Joneslearned when she was convicted of lying to Novitzky about her relationship to BALCO and its products.
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In e-mail messages, News finds disgraced Floyd Landis rides alone after ...http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2010/07/10/2010-07-1...2 of 311/07/2010 00:16

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