Floyd Landis’ lawyer will file to dismiss charges on 9/11/06

The Associated Press and Floyd Landis’ blog are reporting that Floyd’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, and a team of scientists have found “inconsistencies in the testing protocol and methodology” in the 370-page document provided by the French testing lab Chatenay-Malabry. Jacobs said, “While I cannot comment on the full details of our findings, we now have the foundation for a very strong defense should the case proceed to arbitration.” As a result, Jacobs will formally file for dismissal of the case against Floyd on Monday, September 11.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. I wish Floyd, his family, and his defense team all the best. In a perfect world, not only would he be found innocent, but the rule-bending officials in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cyclist’s Union (UCI) would be removed and replaced with people able to do the job, people without an agenda. The people currently in these positions, like Dick Pound and Enrico Carpani, perhaps through good intentions, have nonetheless nearly ruined the public’s image of cycling. In a perfect world, Tour officials would apologize for their quick-to-judge statements, and proclaim Floyd the true winner of the 2006 Tour de France.

But in our imperfect world, I’m afraid justice can never and will never truly be done in this case. Even if the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in whose hands the case now rests, clears Floyd of all wrong-doing, will Tour organizers embrace him again? Due in large part to the presumption of guilt, Phonak/iShares has already announced the team will be disbanded at the end of the year, so Floyd’s team is gone. Lance Armstrong himself, the athlete who has been tested for drugs more than any other and never once failed, was still booed and taunted with shouts of “Dopé!” as he rode the Tour. How might the mostly-European fans treat Floyd? Certainly not better than Lance, regardless of his innocence.

Interestingly, should the case proceed to the next phase, which is arbitration, Landis will invoke a never-before-used rule of the American Arbitration Association when dealing with athletic doping accusations, and the entire proceedings will be public.

    “Once again, we are asking for complete transparency in this process. Floyd has maintained his innocence from the outset and what we have found in the official document package points to a premature public conviction before all of the evidence could be considered,? added Jacobs. ?This is another example why the leaking of an ‘A’ sample results and violating the athletes’ right to anonymity is such a horrible thing. It is this exact scenario that caused the Rules governing anti-doping cases in the United States to be amended in 2004, to allow an athlete concerned about fairness to request that a hearing be opened to the public.”

I continue to believe that Floyd Landis is innocent, and that he does not have a dishonest bone in his body. I trust him and his word implicitly. While this doesn’t make for compelling news copy, I’m fortunate I don’t have to compromise my ethics when I write about this case. I’m not selling anything, I have no advertisers or stockholders to keep happy. Shame on the media outlets and the French and international authorities who were too interested in casting judgement and telling a juicy, tabloid-worthy story to obey their own privacy rules and follow their professional ethics. Shame on you!

Speaking of which, if you’ve read this far, you will probably share my disdain for the Associated Press story. The core facts are reported without adulteration, though the piece includes a few extra facts whose inclusion and juxtaposition makes the AP’s opinion clear. First, they report, “Testosterone, a male sex hormone, helps build muscle and improve stamina,” without mentioning that world-class cyclists don’t want to build muscle. In fact they go to great lengths to remove every possible gram from their bikes so they don’t have to haul the extra weight over two mountain ranges! The late, great mountain climber Marco Pantani sometimes trained to the point that he looked nearly skeletal from the waist up, the idea being to minimize climbing weight. The AP also fails to point out that it takes many doses of testosterone during training to improve stamina. They also write, “The urine tests were done July 20 after Landis’ Stage 17 victory during a grueling Alpine leg of the Tour de France. He regained nearly eight minutes against then-leader Oscar Pereiro and went on to win the three-week race.” While this is less hyperbolic that the often-used “Superman” version of that day’s performance, the truth is Floyd trains meticulously, using a CycleOps PowerTap™, even in competition, to measure and record his wattage output, heart rate, speed, cadence, and more, second by second. And Floyd has made that training and race data available for anyone to see–in short, his “heroic” performance that day was nothing he hasn’t done in training over and over again. He won that day because the peloton thought he was unbeatable, and so he was. He had announced to the other teams that he’d attack on the first climb, and he did. The peloton tried to keep up, but Floyd, temporarily pushing himself beyond his usual limit, psyched them out. Is this kind of performance only possible with the help of drugs? No, and the numbers prove it. Anyway back to one last point about the AP story: Following those errors of omission, they write that runner Marion Jones was just cleared of doping charges because her “B” sample showed no drugs. Then they immediately note that Floyd’s “B” sample failed the follow-up test. What’s reader Joe Bagadonuts supposed to think? What do you think: coincidence, or spin?

That isn’t the most galling bit for me. I’ve worked in the media, and I find it telling that, since the scandal broke, the AP have yet to run any picture of Floyd other than the unflattering close-up in which he’s scratching near his eye. A reasonable man with no other knowledge of the story could easily see a cyclist feigning a tear, looking for sympathy, looking to deceive. I see a sad guy who had an itchy eye for a brief moment (I watched the entire press conference at the time), who has trained and suffered for 15 years for his moment of victory, dealing as best he can with the emotional shock. I also see a news outlet that wants you to judge this man based on their repetitive display of this unflattering, unrepresentative, misleading picture.

To paraphrase Garrett Morris’ Chico Esqéula, Saturday Night Live‘s fictional baseball star with a tenuous grip on English: “Floyd Landis been berry berry good to media.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Bicycling, Bicycling- A Fan's View, Steve's Peeves

One Comment on “Floyd Landis’ lawyer will file to dismiss charges on 9/11/06”

  1. […] Floyd Landis’ lawyer announced last weekend that scientific review of documentation provided by Chatenay-Malabry, the WADA-certified drug […]

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