It takes moxie for someone whose name is closely associated with a controversial drug use to make his comeback drafting off a product derived from a controversial drug.
That was my thought when I heard former professional bike racer and Tour de France winner Floyd Landis would come to Portland to launch his new product, Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Hemp Oil. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is derived from the stalk and seed of cannabis (hemp) plants. It’s non-psychotropic so it won’t get you high, it’s categorized as a dietary supplement and it’s considered a more natural alternative to ibuprofen.
I can say Landis is no stranger to drug use and not even mention his positive urine sample that stripped him of that 2006 Tour de France crown — just four days after he celebrated it on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. That’s because he broke his hip during a training ride in 2003 and turned to opioids to escape the pain. Three years later, after achieving the biggest victory of his life only to be labeled a “doper” and ultimately thrown out of the sport he loved, Landis used the drugs to escape reality. He eventually switched to marijuana, a move that might have not only saved his life, but could help him create a new one.
Now 41, Landis is ready to re-enter the public eye as CEO of a company he founded last year in marijuana-friendly Colorado with former teammate and friend David Zabriskie.
Both of them spent a few days in Portland this week to launch the product at River City Bicycles (a well-known local shop whose owner, Dave Guettler, is a marijuana advocate).
Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Hemp Oil comes in the standard white bottle. 30 pills will set you back about $50. It’s marketed as a general wellness product to be taken daily as an anti-inflammatory and to help your body recover after hard workouts. “If you’re drinking beer or drinking wine after a ride and you need to wake up early the next morning, that can be difficult,” company spokesman Scott Thompson told me yesterday. “But with the CBD product, you wake up the next morning and you feel great.”
Zabriskie, whom I found nearly impossible to tell whether he was being serious or not, put it this way. “They’re non-addictive, but people will get addicted because they work so well.”
Keep in mind, despite the thoughts bouncing around your head about Landis’ past, these pills won’t make you faster. In fact, there’s nothing bike-specific about them, except for their cycling superstar founders.
During an interview yesterday, Landis shared how his past experience with marijuana influenced where he’s at today. “I’ve seen what it does for other people and I like it for myself to deal with my hip which still hurts from time to time.” Landis railed against people who are suspicious of marijuana. “Almost everything people believe about it was entirely fabricated propaganda,” he said, “There’s no such thing as ‘reefer madness’… Yes you can abuse it, but you can abuse anything. It just has so many benefits that to focus on the few people that take it too far is just foolish.”
“I don’t need any kind of hero’s welcome coming back. I don’t really care. We sell something I know is good and it helps people. At the end of the day, if cycling wants to embrace us that’s fine; if they don’t want to embrace us, that’s fine too.”
— Floyd Landis
Landis, who grew up with strict parents as a Mennonite in rural Pennsylvania where there was no alcohol, drugs, or caffeine, said, “Even my mom, whose friend had cancer and it [marijuana] changed her life, has come around.”
“I think all cyclists can benefit from it [the CBD pills],” he continued. “You ride for five or six hours and — unless you’re under 35 — you ache. Something hurts and this fixes it.”
What about the segment of serious cyclists who will see hemp oil pills, especially when sold by a former “doper”, as being untoward?
“The guys that want to complain and say that cycling is all about eating salad and being as pure-as-the-driven-snow, then whatever,” Landis answered. “They can go about their business and the rest of us will be happy.”
During our short ride yesterday, Landis and Zabriskie seemed quite happy and at peace with the past. Mostly. While Landis was gregarious and quick with jokes and laughs, I could still hear and feel that what he’s been through isn’t that far below the surface.
When I brought up how ironic it would be if Floyd’s of Leadville sponsored a team, he laughed a bit and then said, “I’d sponsor a race or a team,” and then he continued, staring into the distance. “It’s been long enough for me now that it feels like a movie at this point the way it all went down for those few years… It’s like I have PTSD or something. I know it all happened but I don’t really feel it… there were some bad days for a while.”
So, is this product some sort of redemption for you? I asked.
“No, it’s not really about redemption,” he replied. “I’ve said my piece. I’ve told everybody what happened. They can either try and understand it and accept it, or make a judgment about it. Honestly for the most part, I think people see it for what it is now and that’s good enough for me. I don’t need any kind of hero’s welcome coming back. I don’t really care. We sell something I know is good and it helps people. At the end of the day, if cycling wants to embrace us that’s fine; if they don’t want to embrace us, that’s fine too.”
You can find Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Hemp Oil at River City Bicycles (706 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) or online at FloydsofLeadville.com.