Last Saturday after climbing Nature Trail – a part of the Sunshine Cycle Shop ride that I hate – I was wheeling slowly back toward the shop ahead of the group. Soon I heard someone ride up behind me. It was Mike, the owner of the shop who joined us that day. We rode back together and he started to tell me about Floyd Landis’ new book.
He said that regardless of the doping aspect of the Landis story, it was a good read and he thought I would enjoy it. Taking his word for it, I drove over to Barnes and Noble later that day and picked up, “Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France.”
I’ll be honest. I had not been following the Landis case that much. It isn’t that I’m not interested. I just am afraid of what I will find. I was pleased to have Floyd win the Tour and couldn’t believe that he would have been stupid enough to take a drug the day of his great comeback. He would have known that if he did win, he would have to get tested.
Not wanting to believe it, I didn’t. Then when the B sample was tested with similar results, I accepted it and figured Floyd Landis was just like all the other people who you get behind just to find out they were pulling your leg all along. At that point, I just put the rider out of my mind and left it at that.
Then I pick up this book. I’ll tell you, he does a good job of planting doubt in your mind about the accuracy of the testing. He does give you reason to say, as I did, “Why would he be so stupid to do that? Why would he need to do that when he has shown that his comeback on that day was really not ‘superhuman’ but nothing different than what he had done before mixed with good race strategy?”
The more enjoyable part of the book was the first half where he tells the story of his beginnings and growth in the sport. He portrays himself as anything but superhuman. He is just a regular kind of guy who had a dream to win the greatest bicycle race in the world. The second part of the book becomes a dossier for his legal defense – fascinating, but not enjoyable.
You have to like Floyd Landis – at least his portrayal of himself – not only in this book, but in the way he has stood toe to toe with those who have brought the charges against him. From a purely PR standpoint, it is really the only option he has.
I want to believe him. Just don’t ask me if I do. I don’t want to say I don’t and lose the comfort in the thought that maybe he isn’t. I don’t want to say I do and then get slammed when I find that there is really incontrovertible evidence that he did.