World champs organisers irked by Landis invitation

Melbourne: Organisers of this month`s road cycling world championships in Melbourne have criticised a decision to invite disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis to attend a pre-event conference, local media reported.

Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after a positive drug test, was expected to appear at the Pathways for Pro Cycling conference at Deakin University on Sept. 27-29 ahead of the world championships that start on Sept. 29, the Herald-Sun said on Friday.

The world championships committee had withdrawn its support for the conference, which would include anti-doping speakers on its agenda, and had demanded organisers withdraw their invitation to Landis, the paper said.

"Providing Floyd Landis with a soapbox to deliver a tirade like he did on the eve of the Tour of California is not something the world championship organisers want," the committee`s media director David Culbert told the paper.

The 34-year-old Landis spent four years and more than $1 million protesting his innocence before confessing to doping offences in May and accusing Lance Armstrong and several other American riders of cheating.

Landis`s comments sparked an ongoing federal investigation into alleged doping, while Armstrong, who has never had a positive drug test, has denied the allegations and questioned his accuser`s credibility.

"We believe the conference and the whole discussion around doping in sport -- and particularly cycling -- is worthwhile," added Culbert.

"But we believe it is inappropriate to have Floyd Landis attend the world championships, particularly when the federal investigation in the U.S. into his allegation is still ongoing."

Conference organiser Martin Hardie would not withdraw Landis`s invitation, the paper said.

"We`ve invited people throughout the cycling world to an open forum without retribution and recrimination," he said. "I expect Floyd to be there."

The road cycling world championships will be held in Geelong and Melbourne from Sept. 29-Oct. 3.

Bureau Report