Tag Archives: Floyd Landis

Floyd Landis: Pro and Con

The news wasn’t surprising. The story in the Wall Street Journal spread like wildfire through the twitterverse. Also unsurprising was incendiary fuel of some big names to help fuel the flame. Floyd Landis is back in the news and this pro — and con — gives us reason again to take a look at the state of doping in our sport.

Con

The issue with the revelations by Landis is that he is a con. He has lied before. What makes us think he won’t lie again? The “con” is that he is a con.

What if every allegation that he is making is true? Wow, that would turn the cycling world upside down. Then again… would it? Just because it might be true doesn’t mean it can be proven. Unless physical proof can be presented it is the word of a known liar – Landis – against Lance Armstrong and a host of other long-time professional athletes.

Hmmmm, wonder who will win that battle? Had Landis come forward back before he was caught and made these allegations, perhaps his revelations would carry more punch. As it is, he comes across as a sinking ship that is trying to throw anchor onto all the vessels around him for the sake of causing them to go down with him.

This whole business is a “con” for our sport. The loudest messengers calling for the sport to be cleaned up always seem to be the ones caught in the act. Don’t get me wrong… there are other voices, they just don’t end up in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Pro

All that said, it does keep the pressure on the dopers. There really isn’t anything we can do about 2002 – 2006. The focus needs to be on now and curtailing the doping that still continues in the ranks of professional cycling. If these emails by Landis help to keep the focus on finding those cheaters and putting a stop to their actions, then that is a painful but positive result.

Another positive is that at least now we can move on from Landis himself. I’ll admit, I had sympathy for the guy and deep inside I hoped that it was true that he didn’t dope — though reason told me otherwise. Yes, perhaps his allegations will open a whole new book of stories, but as for Landis himself, I’ve closed the book on him.

Why

It leaves us to ask the question “Why?” Why did Landis come clean about his own use of performance enhancing drugs and methods? Why now? Are those questions even important?

The deeper question is “Why do these athletes do this?” The obvious answer is that they are seeking that competitive edge that will give them what they seek most – a place. I don’t think that it is so much that they do so to win. Many of the dopers never do. They are simply trying to stay in the game.

I can see how easy it could be. They are very disciplined and control so many aspects of their lives to make a go of it. The one thing they cannot control is the competition. When you are doing all you can to perform at your best and you are still struggling… the temptation is to look for that one extra boost.

Dopers are like politicians (my apologies to the dopers).  So often before they are elected politicians will arrive in government with lofty ideals. Before long they are sucked into the feeding frenzy and belly up at the trough. Their only goal becomes getting reelected.

How

How do we put an end to this? Well, as much as we hate it, there must be testing. However, that won’t end it. The end of doping will have to take place within the peloton. The code needs to be turned on its head. Some other pro rather than a known con must take the first step to helping the peloton police itself.

Landis

Do I have to talk about Floyd Landis? I feel an obligation to say something, but it won’t be much. Really, is anybody surprised that he lost his appeal? I’m not.

You also think about what would have happened had he won his appeal. Landis says he is currently researching his legal options. Had he won I’m sure the UCI or ASO or whatever sports organization he is up against would do the same. The CAS ruling has not ended it.

I also doubt, in the current climate, he would have been able to find a ride. Kind of tough when the ads for the Tour de France have a scene where they reverse the video of him receiving his yellow jersey to make it appear they are taking it off. At the same time you see this year’s slogan “Take Back the Tour” flashing on the screen.

About that slogan – which Tour are we taking it back to? Seems like there has been some doping issue for as long as I can remember. It is just that recently there has been more public talk about it. To which Tour? 2006? 1996? Even farther back you read the stories of how riders unabashedly used external stimulants to help them perform.

I’m not condoning that. I’m all for a doping free Tour. I just think the “Take Back the Tour” slogan on Versus is a little naive. Then again, I’m feeling kind of grumpy today. I guess I’m just seeing the dark side in everything.

Oh, one last thing about Landis. He is off his suspension in January 2009. That is only seven months away. Has it been that long?

Did he or didn’t he?

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.