For the past four years, cyclist Floyd Landis has lived by a single mantra: deny, deny, deny. After being stripped of his Tour de France title in 2006 for failing a doping test, Landis finally admitted that he was in fact using performance-enhancing drugs when he won the race. But rather than simply admitting to it and moving on with his life after years of legal struggle and public shame, he decided to point the finger at some of his former teammates, including the legendary Lance Armstrong.
In a series of emails sent to several cycling officials and sponsors, Landis accused Armstrong and others in using performance-enhancing drugs just hours before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour de California. So what was Lance to do? Wait until the end of the race to respond? Did he allow the accusations to simmer for a bit before confronting them? No, he confronted them head on, acting quickly and decisively. With hardly any time to spare before the beginning of Thursday’s race, the seven time Tour de France winner held a short press conference right outside his bus, saying he has “nothing to hide.”
From a PR perspective, this was a smart move by Lance. He is more than an individual― he is a brand, the personified form of LiveStrong. He has much more at stake than Floyd Landis or anyone in cycling for that matter. He could have just let this play out for a while before making a statement, but if he did, he would have only left room for people to speculate on these accusations. Not only was his reaction clear and concise, it was timely, and that may be even more important here. There is still going to be debate about whether or not these people were using PEDs, but for now, Lance is leading the PR pack on this one. He came out strong, he came out quick, and he got the message across. Maybe LiveStrong isn’t just a brand name after all.