Cycling: World title body dumps conference over Landis

MELBOURNE - Disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis has slammed world road championships organisers after they withdrew their support for a conference he will attend.

The self-confessed drugs cheat is scheduled to speak at the New Pathways for Pro Cycling conference on September 27-28, on the eve of the world titles in Geelong.

The conference will also be held in Geelong and it originally had the support of the world titles.

But a spokesman for the championships confirmed on Friday that the backing was now withdrawn, saying they did not want to give Landis a soapbox.

Landis has posted a long statement on the conference website, explaining his motives for attending.

"To be clear, I do not wish to use the conference as a soapbox, nor do I wish to hijack the world championships," he said.

"Indeed, the behaviour and comments of the persons and organisations that seek to shut down the conference as a consequence of my participation demonstrate that they are interested only in selfishly perpetuating their own positions and purported authority at the expense of progressive reform.

"[They have] total disregard of the sport's long-term interests, including those of the riders and fans, which they are charged to protect.

"By offering an inside perspective of an athlete confronted with decisions regarding the use of banned performance enhancing drugs, I hope to be able to contribute to a better understanding of how those decisions come to be made, and how athletes can be better supported by those in a position to facilitate better decisions and decision-making."

Landis won the 2006 Tour de France and then lost the title because of a positive drugs test.

After four years of protesting his innocence, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in a public appeal to help fund his legal costs, Landis finally confessed this year.

His case also took a dramatic twist when he made the admission because Landis implicated several other cyclists, particularly seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

They were former teammates and the American government is now investigating Armstrong, cycling's most famous name.

Landis stressed he would not comment further on Armstrong at the conference.

"I will not and cannot discuss events or circumstances related to the ongoing investigations and lawsuits involving Lance Armstrong and certain of his current and former business associates and teammates, including what I saw and heard during the relevant time periods," Landis said.

The professional men's road circuit is the pinnacle of the sport, but it has taken a succession of hits to its credibility over the last 12 years because of doping scandals.

The Landis episode and the fallout has been arguably the biggest of those scandals because it now involves Armstrong.

The conference website says its aim is to "discuss the problems the sport faces as it undergoes changes".

The September 29-October 3 world titles are one of cycling's biggest annual events and are being held in Australia for the first time.

- AAP

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