Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images
Floyd Landis listens to testimony at Thursday's hearing in Malibu, Calif.
Floyd Landis listens to testimony at Thursday's hearing in Malibu, Calif. Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images
Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond stunned a panel hearing allegations of doping against fellow cyclist Floyd Landis, revealing that he had received an anonymous phone call aimed at blackmailing him into not testifying.
Landis — who finished first in the 2006 Tour de France but is no longer considered the winner by Tour organizers after he tested positive test for a banned substance — had asked for the arbitration hearing to appeal his case.
LeMond was summoned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to testify about conversations he'd had with Landis that could have damaged the younger cyclist's case. LeMond said he had received a phone call the night before his scheduled testimony on Thursday from a telephone number he later traced to Landis' business manager, Will Geoghegan.
"I think they didn't want me coming here today," LeMond said. "I don't know why. If you didn't do anything wrong, why would you mind me coming here today?"
In a stunning twist, LeMond disclosed to the panel that he had been sexually abused as a child, saying the anonymous caller had threatened to reveal that information if Lemond showed up to testify.
It was something LeMond said he'd shared with Landis last August. LeMond had told Landis that keeping the secret for so many years had "almost destroyed" him and he encouraged Landis to come forward if the doping allegations were true.
LeMond said the phone call "was a real threat, it was real creepy, and I think it shows the extent of who it is. I think there's another side of Floyd that the public hasn't seen."
After the testimony, Geoghegan walked up to LeMond, apologized and admitted he made the call, LeMond said later. That led to Geoghegan's prompt firing, as announced by Landis attorney Maurice Suh.
Landis sat stoically throughout the testimony. He is not permitted to speak at the hearing.
The 31-year-old American cyclist was stripped of his victory after a lab in France determined that he had injected himself with the male hormone testosterone. Landis has repeatedly and publicly refused to accept those results, casting doubt on the competence of the lab.
In his cross-examination, another Landis attorney, Howard Jacobs, tried to ask LeMond about suggestions he had made that seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong might have doped. LeMond refused to answer, saying it wasn't at issue.
"I just have to say, again, this is completely unfair," Jacobs said.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, LeMond insisted his appearance was only meant to help the sport he thinks has been ruined by doping.
"The sport is paying the price for all the dishonesty and lies," he said. "The whole house of cards is starting to crumble."
Written by Scott Neuman with reporting by Tom Goldman and the Associated Press.