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      Armstrong denies new doping accusations

      This July 22, 2004, fie photo shows overall leader Lance Armstrong, right, straining in the ascent of the La Croix Fry pass, as teammate Floyd Landis pours water over his neck, during the 17th stage of the Tour de France. / AP Photo
      (AP) -- Disgraced U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis revealed new cheating allegations in a series of messages to sponsors and officials, alleging that former teammate Lance Armstrong not only joined him in doping but taught others how to beat the system and paid an official to keep a failed test quiet.

      With international cycling season in full swing, Landis admitted for the first time what had long been suspected " that he was guilty of doping for several years before being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title.

      His fresh accusations, contained in e-mails sent last month, prompted Armstrong to hold an impromptu press conference Thursday at the Tour of California.

      "If you said, 'Give me one word to sum this all up,' credibility," the seven-time Tour de France winner said. "Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago."

      "We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from," said Armstrong, who later quit the race to go to a hospital for X-rays after crashing just outside of Visalia, Calif. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens told The Associated Press that Armstrong got stitches in the left elbow and under the left eye.

      Though Landis lost his title, he denied cheating until now, and his recent e-mails detail his blood doping.

      "I want to clear my conscience," Landis told ESPN.com. "I don't want to be part of the problem any more."

      He claims that Armstrong and longtime coach Johan Bruyneel paid an International Cycling Union official to cover-up a test in 2002 after Armstrong purportedly tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The UCI, however, denied changing or concealing a positive test result.

      In an e-mail Landis sent to USA Cycling chief Steve Johnson, he said Armstrong's positive EPO test was in 2002, around the time he won the Tour de Suisse. Armstrong won the Tour de Suisse in 2001 and did not compete in 2002.

      "We're a little confused, maybe just as confused as you guys," Armstrong said, with Bruyneel by his side. "The timeline is off, year by year."

      The Wall Street Journal first reported the details of the e-mails.

      Landis also implicated other cyclists, including longtime Armstrong confidant George Hincapie and Olympic medalist Levi Leipheimer, and acknowledged using human growth hormone starting in 2003. The Wall Street Journal reported another e-mail from Landis also linked another top American racer, Dave Zabriskie, to doping.

      "Look forward to much more detail as soon as you can demonstrate that you can be trusted to do the right thing," Landis wrote in the e-mail to Johnson.

      Landis said he was asked at one point to stay in an apartment where Armstrong was living and check the temperature in a refrigerator where blood was being stored for future transfusions. "Mr. Armstrong was planning on being gone for a few weeks to train he asked me to stay in his place and make sure the electricity didn't turn off or something go wrong with the refrigerator," Landis wrote.

      Hincapie said he was "really disappointed" by the allegations. Jim Ochowicz, a former top USA Cycling official " who was also implicated by Landis " defended himself and Hincapie.

      "These allegations are not true, absolutely unfounded and unproven," said Ochowicz, now the president of BMC Racing, Hincapie's current team. "This is disappointing to anyone who works in the sport or is a fan of the sport."

      Johnson said USA Cycling would not comment about Landis' series of e-mails, citing its policy on not discussing "doping allegations, investigations or any aspect of an adjudication process."

      The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also declined comment for similar reasons, and Landis did not respond to messages left by The AP.

      More accusations from Landis could be coming, however. In his e-mail to Johnson, Landis indicated he has several diaries detailing other experiences.

      "I've always known Floyd as an angry person ... somebody who's basically angry with the world," Bruyneel said. "To me it sounds like he just wants to drag down people who are still there and enjoying this."

      Until about 2005, Armstrong worked extensively with Michele Ferrari, an Italian doctor who was linked to numerous doping issues, but was cleared by an appeals court in 2006. Landis claimed Ferrari extracted "half a liter of blood" from him in 2002, so he could have it transfused during the Tour de France.

      "Mr. Armstrong was not witness to the extraction but he and I had lengthy discussions about it on our training rides during which time he also explained to me the evolution of EPO testing and how transfusions were now necessary due to the inconvenience of the new test," Landis wrote.

      Andy Rihs, the owner of the Phonak team for which Landis rode when he won the Tour, issued a statement saying Landis' claims were "lies" and a "last, tragic attempt" to get publicity. In the April 30 e-mail, Landis alleges that Rihs was aware of his doping and helped fund it.

      Like Armstrong, UCI president Pat McQuaid questioned Landis' credibility.

      "He already made those accusations in the past," McQuaid said. "Armstrong has been accused many times in the past but nothing has been proved against him. And in this case, I have to question the guy's credibility. There is no proof of what he says. We are speaking about a guy who has been condemned for doping before a court."

      Armstrong said Landis started threatening him and other top riders such as Leipheimer and Zabriskie to make allegations like these long ago.

      "I'd remind everybody that this is a man that's been under oath several times and had a very different version," Armstrong said. "This is a man that wrote a book for profit that had a completely different version. This is somebody that took, some would say, close to $1 million from innocent people for his defense under a different premise. Now when it's all run out the story changes."

      Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

      THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Read earlier story below.

      NEW YORK (AP) " Disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis has admitted to systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs and accused seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong of involvement in doping, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

      Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping but had always denied cheating, sent a series of e-mails to cycling officials and sponsors acknowledging and detailing his long-term use of banned drugs, the newspaper said.

      The report said Landis wrote in the e-mails that he started doping in 2002, his first year racing with the U.S. Postal Service team led by Armstrong.

      Landis also admitted to doping in an interview with ESPN.com.

      Landis also accused American riders Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie and Armstrong's longtime coach, Johan Bruyneel, of involvement in doping, the Journal reported.

      Armstrong is currently competing in the Tour of California and couldn't be reached for comment. Neither could Bruyneel, Leipheimer or Zabriskie.

      International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said Landis' allegations were "scandalous and mischievous."

      "These guys coming out now with things like this from the past is only damaging the sport," McQuaid told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "If they've any love for the sport they wouldn't do it."

      The governing body said it regretted that Landis accused former teammates without allowing U.S. cycling and anti-doping authorities time to investigate.

      "An impartial investigation is a fundamental right as Mr. Landis will understand having contested, for two years, the evidence of his breach of the anti-doping rules in 2006," UCI said in a statement.

      McQuaid said it was up to U.S.A Cycling and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to look into the allegations.

      WADA president John Fahey said in a statement that "we are very interested in learning more about this matter and we will liaise with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and any other authorities with appropriate jurisdiction to get to the heart of the issues raised."

      The Journal said it had seen copies of three e-mails sent by Landis between April 30 and May 6, and that he had copied in seven people on the messages, including officials with USA Cycling and international governing body UCI.

      Landis served a two-year ban after testing positive for elevated testosterone levels at the 2006 Tour. He was the first rider stripped of a Tour de France title.

      "I want to clear my conscience," Landis told ESPN.com. "I don't want to be part of the problem any more."

      He also said he was speaking out now in part because the WADA's eight-year statute of limitations was close to running out.

      "If I don't say something now then it's pointless to ever say it," Landis said.

      He told ESPN.com that his most difficult phone call was to his mother to tell her the truth for the first time.

      Landis' parents did not immediately return a phone message left at their home in Lancaster County, Pa. Paul and Arlene Landis, devout Mennonites, had always defended their son against doping accusations.

      McQuaid questioned Landis' credibility and said he would be "a pariah" in the cycling community.

      "What's his agenda?" McQuaid said. "The guys is seeking revenge. It's sad, it's sad for cycling. It's obvious he does hold a grudge."

      McQuaid said he received copies of the e-mails sent by Landis to the U.S. cycling federation, but declined to comment on their contents. He said Landis' allegations were "nothing new."

      "He already made those accusations in the past," McQuaid said. "Armstrong has been accused many times in the past but nothing has been proved against him. And in this case, I have to question the guy's credibility. There is no proof of what he says. We are speaking about a guy who has been condemned for doping before a court."

      In the ESPN.com interview, Landis detailed extensive use of the blood-boosting drug EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone and blood transfusions, as well as female hormones and a one-time experiment with insulin. He said the doping occurred during the years he rode for the U.S. Postal Service and Swiss-based Phonak teams.

      Phonak owner Andy Rihs issued a statement saying Landis' claims were "lies" and a "last, tragic attempt" to get publicity.

      "Floyd Landis personally signed that he would uphold our code and use no illegal practices when he joined our former racing group," Rihs said.

      The whole team was convinced that he was upholding this until his doping was revealed at the 2006 Tour.

      "Neither I, nor the leadership of the team, knew that Floyd Landis doped," Rihs said.

      In one of the e-mails seen by the Wall Street Journal, dated April 30, Landis said he flew to Girona, Spain, in 2003 and had two half-liter units of blood extracted from his body in a three-week interval to be used later during the Tour de France.

      According to the newspaper, Landis claimed the blood extractions took place in Armstrong's apartment. He said blood bags belonging to Armstrong and then-teammate George Hincapie were kept in a refrigerator in Armstrong's closet and Landis was asked to check the temperature of the blood daily.

      When Armstrong left for a few weeks, he asked Landis to "make sure the electricity didn't go off and ruin the blood," according to the e-mail quoted by the Journal.

      ___

      AP Sports Writers Samuel Petrequin in Paris, Graham Dunbar in Geneva and Associated Press Writer Mike Rubinkam in Allentown, Pa., contributed to this report.

      Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

      Read more about Floyd Landis' doping claims: After Landis's Armstrong Allegations, What Next? (WSJ Blog)Lance Armstrong remains cycling TMs star attraction (Times Online)

      THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Read earlier story below.

      (AP) -- The Wall Street Journal is reporting that disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis has admitted to systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs, and accused seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong of involvement in doping.

      The paper says Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, sent a series of e-mails to cycling officials and sponsors detailing his use of banned drugs.

      Landis also admitted to doping in an interview with ESPN.com.

      Pat McQuaid, the head of cycling's world governing body UCI, questions Landis' credibility. McQuaid tells The Associated Press that Landis is "seeking revenge" and holds a "grudge" against Armstrong and others.

      McQuaid says Armstrong has been accused of doping many times, but nothing has ever been proven.

      Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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