Floyd Landis' admission late Wednesday that he had indeed doped and his implication that other racers did too sent shock waves throughout the cycling world Thursday -- including in Utah.
Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win after testing positive for high amounts of testosterone, admitted late Wednesday he doped and accused several other racers and former teammates of using illegal means as well to enhance their performances.
Among those he accused are seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and fellow Americans George Hincapie, Rowland Hall graduate Levi Leipheimer and Salt Lake City native David Zabriskie.
Leipheimer's coach, Max Testa, denied any knowledge of any doping practices by his rider and expressed surprise in the timing of Landis' announcement.
"I have worked with Levi for four years and he is one of the last persons I'd think of would do something like that," he said. "Most medical things are discussed between the team managers and medical staff for the teams, but Levi never talked about anything like that. He has a very strong work ethic and is one of the hardest training guys I know."
Landis outlined a doping program that involved the U.S. Postal Service team from 2002-2005, a time in which Landis rode in support of Armstrong.
Zabriskie was involved on the team from 2001 to 2005 while Leipheimer was a team member from 2000-01 and Hincapie was on the team from 1997-2007.
Many of the racers implicated in the doping scheme have denied the allegations, which have come to light during one of the premier races on the American calendar, the Tour of California.
Armstrong denied any wrongdoing when he met with reporters outside of his team bus Thursday.
"With regards to specific allegations, the specific claims, they're not even worth getting into it," Armstrong said in a report filed by cycling magazine VeloNews . "I'm not going to waste my time or your time."
Testa, who works out of The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray and has been involved in cycling for more than 20 years as a sports medicine and exercise physiologist, and has served as a physician for USA Cycling, expressed surprise at the riders Landis implicated.
"George, Levi, Zabriskie, these are all good guys," Testa said. "You can never know in sports and there are surprises, but they are all solid people. It's not like they just came onto the scene. All were good juniors and have been consistent athletes the last 10 years."
Leipheimer is the three-time defending champion of the Tour of California. Zabriskie currently leads the race, which concludes Sunday. He now rides for the Garmin-Transitions team, which formed in 2008 and has a reputation for being outspoken in support of clean racing.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters gave Zabriskie support in an interview with Cyclingnews Thursday.
"He can win this race with clear conscience and an open heart, and I think he will," Vaughters said.
In e-mails to cycling officials, Landis said he hired physiologist Dr. Allen Lim in 2005 and that Lim helped prepare Landis and Leipheimer for blood transfusions.
Testa was on his way to the Tour of California on Thursday morning and said he hadn't had time to read many of the reports.
"Cycling is a great sport but there are surprises," Testa said. "It's tough to comment on now until we know more, but my mentality is Levi is a good guy and has been very outspoken against drugs. It would be hard to picture him being involved."
Landis won the Tour of California in 2006, prior to his now infamous Tour de France race. Landis consistently has maintained his innocence throughout an arbitration process after he tested positive for doping. Following a two-year suspension, he returned to racing in 2009 as a member of Rock Racing an then joined the OUCH Pro Cycling Team. He finished 23rd in the 2009 Tour of California and 24th in the Tour of Utah.
"It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few hours," Testa said. "It is a surprise to me, the timing of what Floyd is saying. Why does he want to put the whole cycling world in such a bad light right now? For a long time I thought he was innocent. He seemed like a good guy. There is a lot to digest now and it's hard to figure it all out what is the truth with him switching directions."
Travis Tygart, the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, released a statement Thursday morning in which he said he wouldn't comment on the "substance of any doping investigation."
"It is important to re-emphasize USADA's position that all athletes are innocent until and unless proven otherwise through the established legal process," he said. "Attempts to sensationalize or exploit either the process or the athletes are a disservice to fair play, due process and to those who love clean sport."
Lim, the physiologist identified by Landis in the supposed doping scheme, worked with Vaughters on the Slipstream Sports team following Landis' positive drug test in 2006. He left in 2009 to join the supporting cast for Armstrong's RadioShack team.