“I've been riding my bike a lot, trying to figure out life, which is the same reason I did it to start with, so I've come full circle. I'll always ride my bike. But I'll never start on a line on a road and try to get to another line on a road faster than another guy. That's over.”
So ends the pro cycling career of Floyd Landis, 35.
At one time seen as the athlete most likely to continue America's superior role at the Tour de France after Lance Armstrong's retirement, his success turned sour in a doping scandal that earned him the moniker, “disgraced cyclist.”
Landis told Ford at ESPN.com that he is retiring after spending five years trying to get back to a place in the sport that he can never get back to, and it is causing too much stress in his life.
The Pennsylvania-born cyclist has been known most recently as leveling accusations against Armstrong and his associates for doping, which was strenuously denied by Armstrong. Landis went public with the allegations at the beginning of the 2010 Tour of California in May after discussing the issue by e-mail with cycling officials.
Throughout most of the year, Landis has been racing without a team. He raced briefly for the Bahati Foundation cycling team in early 2010, but they parted ways after Landis went public that he lied about not doping during the 2006 Tour de France.
Landis fought the allegations against him and wrote a book, the aptly named “Positively False.” He finally served a two-year ban from pro cycling until Jan. 30, 2009, when he returned as a member of the OUCH Cycling Team.
He then raced briefly for the Bahati Foundation pro cycling team in 2010, but became convinced that he'd been blacklisted from the top teams and top races, according to Ford. In addition to going public, he also began meeting with federal investigators who opened the current doping probe against Armstrong and Tailwind Sports.
Landis told Ford that he doesn't want it to appear that he's quitting because he's bitter. Ford concludes:
“But he added that he is disillusioned with what he termed systemic corruption and hypocrisy in cycling and said he is pessimistic that real progress can be made in changing its doping culture.
'I'm relatively sure this sport cannot be fixed, but that's not my job, that's not my fight,' he said.”