Blazin' Saddles

Landis condensed

Blazin' Saddles

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On the tip of everybody's tongues this week was the extraordinary interview between the shamed former Tour champion Floyd Landis and the award-winning, soup-spitting, sports journalist Paul Kimmage.

The full 30,000-word transcript of the seven-hour interview, which took place in November last year, was made available online after Kimmage's article in last weekend's Sunday Times in the UK - but the sheer length of what was a fascinating insight into what is clearly a very troubled mind put many readers off.

Which is where Saddles comes in to help: ever the Good Samaritan, BS has condensed the contents of the interview into one bite-size Landis monologue, ready here for your delectation. Enjoy!

"I always knew I was going to win the Tour in 2006. After my win in Morzine I was quite offended about some of the suspicious comments, even though I knew I was doping. But I didn't feel guilty because all the others were at it too - including the guy who was eventually awarded the win. Let's just say I saw Urko at it when we were on the same team the year before.

"Winning in Paris was by far the best moment I have ever felt in cycling. It wasn't happiness, just a sense of accomplishment. I would say it was better than sex, but that's something I didn't have until I was in my early 20s and I had escaped my Mennonite upbringing.

"You see, sex was frowned upon at home in Farmersville. We didn't even have a TV or radio. The only book we could read was the bible. I once managed to sneak out and watch The Lion King - that's the cartoon, not the Italian rider. Cipo was too busy taking steroids while making love and listening to Springsteen. But that's another story.

"As a 12 year old I was taught that lust was a sin, which was frustrating because it meant I was going to hell. It was all very confusing. Riding my bike became my drug, my addiction. I would go out on my wheels and fantasise about everything I wanted to do. Them rides were long.

"You know, Paul, I never set out to cheat or to hurt anyone. For all my faults, I'm a better person now. I feel regret, especially for my family, but no guilt. Given a second chance, I would still have done everything the same - I just would have admitted it afterwards.

"I didn't know France existed until I was 20, when I saw Lance win that stage after his team-mate died. I then went to France for the mountain bike world championships and I hated it, especially the food.

"So I left home and moved to California, where I was amazed that it was sunny even in the winter. Also, people drank alcohol without feeling any guilt. I soon joined in: Saki became my tipple of choice.

"My parents were sad I had left, but I knew I wouldn't return. I met a 48-year-old man called David, who took me in and became a father figure. He had a restaurant, and he set me up with the daughter of his wife. We had nothing in common, but we decided to get married (I hadn't had sex with any of the dogs in the Mennonite community, so could you blame me?). I didn't tell my parents till afterwards. They cried.

"I joined the US Postal team after a dispute over my salary with my old team. I made a complaint to the UCI which I was forced to retract because they had just covered up a failed drugs test by Lance in the Tour of Switzerland.

"My first impressions of Lance were that he was a bit of an a**hole. He wasn't like the guy in his book. He was obnoxious and loved strip clubs. We only became friends as far as we could be friends - he was so controlling.

"It was around here that I graduated from Saki and moved on to testosterone patches. And coffee. There was this one time in Italy when I drank 13 cappuccinos with Dave Zabriskie - and then went for a snooze. Everyone thought I was quite zany.

"On the 2004 Tour, my parents came to watch me in the Pyrenees. By now I was doing blood transfusions - we all were. I fell out with Johan Bruyneel because I tried too hard in the final time trial, and then I refused to support Lance over the Filippo Simeoni situation.

"There was so much bad blood between us, I left US Postal for Phonak, who offered to double my salary to half a million dollars which meant I could buy a Harley Davidson motorbike. The bike was great - when the doctors came knocking on my front door for dope controls, I would put on my helmet and speed away out the back.

"The move to Phonak wasn't smooth because Tyler Hamilton ran into difficulties. Something about Tugboat or his twin brother, or something. I decided to have my hip operation, which wrecked my first season.

"By now Lance had retired and in 2006 I was the favourite to win the Tour. I felt no guilt over doping. The way I saw it was that if someone was going to cheat it may as well be me. I did three transfusions during the race but I never took any testosterone, which is what I tested positive for. So maybe I was in the right to contest the ban.

"Testosterone wasn't my thing. I was more into growth hormone. I didn't take the yellow jersey back at Morzine, but I knew I would be in the lead after the final time trial - even if Oscar told me he had another transfusion to do, plus a bit of artificial haemoglobin.

"You see, we were all pretty open about it all - we discussed doping in the peloton as if we were discussing meals. We used to compare needle scars at the start. And then look what happened - Oscar threw me under the bus! F*** him.

"I was told of the failed test the week after the Tour. I hoped it was for cortisone, which I could blame on my hip, but it was for testosterone. It didn't make any sense, but while I couldn't deny I had doped, I wasn't strong enough to admit I had done it either.

"Lance called me up and told me I had to learn how to lie better. I fled France for Madrid. I was told the Spanish lawyers were the best for doping. But they were a complete joke. I had no friends or advisors. I was alone. I wasn't Lance - I couldn't call the UCI and tell it to make it go away. Jonathan Vaughters told me to come clean but don't drag anyone else into it. I lost a lot of sleep. David shot himself.

"I didn't care about the money, but I needed funds for my legal costs so I wrote Positively False, which was positively false. I worked 24/7 on my defence. I became a scientist and lawyer. My marriage suffered. I had to sell all my Tour memorabilia to pay bills. I lost the case. I lost the appeal. Amber and I divorced. I hit rock bottom 10 times and started drinking.

"Meanwhile LA was making his comeback and I couldn't even find a team to take me on. I had nothing to lose, so I decided to come clean and tell the whole truth. I sent those emails last summer - and then there was the Wall Street Journal article which got the ball rolling.

"The unfortunate part is if Lance gets away with it then probably no good comes of it. But just the fact that he doesn't get away with it won't be enough to make me feel good.

"I just can't stop crying at the moment. So I've decided to quit cycling. It p***** me off that a cycling news website said I advocated legalising doping - they twisted my words, I never said that.

"No one understands me. I think I'm going to take my bike and go and live with my parents. I'm beginning to think that their simple way of life is better. I should have listened to them from the start."

Blazin' Saddles would like to stress that none of the above text reflects his beliefs or the beliefs of Yahoo! or Eurosport - he is merely reporting what was said by Landis. BS neither advocates what Landis says nor necessarily takes it as the truth - and nor should you.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "To be frank, I am not going into some bulls*** game like this. I believe that during my entire cycling career that I never had any sort of problem with doping. I am not going to respond to something like from someone like Floyd Landis, who did test positive. I believe what he's said and done these past few years has left him with very little credibility. It's too bad, because he was a cool guy, but it's really annoying what he's doing in the manner that he's doing it. I am innocent." Oscar Pereiro, the de facto 2006 Tour winner, tells Velonews what he thinks about Landis's allegations.

Follow Blazin' Saddles throughout the week on www.twitter.com/saddleblaze.

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