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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 23, 2007
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Letters special edition - The Floyd Landis hearing
With Floyd Landis' arbitration hearing scheduled to conclude today, and the final verdict expected in around two weeks time, the Cyclingnews mailbox has been inundated with letters on all aspects of the Landis case, and the bizarre events surrounding Greg LeMond's testimony last Thursday.
Opinions ranged from humour to despair and anger to resignation, a selection of which are represented in this special letters edition.
Landis case live coverage
I only wish that Cyclingnews would run minute by minute updates:
12:23 PM - Landis attorney attacks!
12:25 PM - LNDD Interpreter dropped - French speaking lab tech isolated.
12:35 PM - The 'yellow tie' still looking cool, has most of his legal team around him. Looking over his shoulder for LeMond to attack.
12:40 PM - Suh looks to be a lock for the 'red tie' for most aggressive lawyer.
1:10 PM - Uncle Ron attacks LeMond. Attack immediately responded to by LeMond domestiques.
1:23 PM - LeMond finally attacks Landis. This may be the move of the day. He opens up a gap and we see Landis suffering. Uncle Ron is also suffering and dropping off the back, unable to continue with the Landis group.
1:25 PM - Landis is clearly in trouble. Jacobs starts setting the pace with Landis on his wheel, trying to pull the yellow jersey back into the race.
Greg LeMond may lack charisma, but now I can never doubt his integrity. He's always been a lot less likeable than Armstrong, but I don't see how anyone can doubt him after what's transpired. That he's the one blowing the whistle instead of walking away like everyone else shows the virtue of his character.
His business will undoubtedly suffer, as will his reputation, but he's willing to sacrifice all of that in order to do the right thing, whatever the consequences. He is going to suffer so much for this, but he's willing to take his licks in order to get his message across to save the sport that he loves, if it isn't already too late for that. Respect.
How to resolve cycling's crisis? Declare a general amnesty, get all of the dirt out from under the rug, figure out how to catch dopers in the future, and then institute a first-time lifetime ban.
Although I feel bad for Lemond regarding his revelation that (if true) he had been sexually abused I still question his motives in testifying, he has never been able to deal with anyone surpassing his status as America's Cycling Hero.
Yes, he probably would have won the Tour several more times had he not been injured, but that is beside the point. His sniping at Armstrong brings about some serious motivation questions regarding his involvement in the Landis affair.
And let me ask this: Since LeMond rode and won in an age of fairly obvious drug use by the peloton, why not have him submit to a polygraph regarding his use or non-use of drugs? I feel that LeMond is the pot calling the kettle black.
I personally am not happy about the phone call to LeMond from the Landis camp. I think this does shed a different light on Landis and his team. So don't get me wrong on this letter. I was just starting out in cycling when LeMond won his first TdF and watched the whole race. I became a huge LeMond fan, and with that, a cycling fanatic. This WAS due, largely to LeMond.
In recent years though, it seems, all LeMond wants to do is tear down US riders. "He said he knew Lance [Armstrong] doped and he said he was sure that I doped because he'd seen results," Landis said. (How and why could LeMond see results? That, in itself is a problem.)
LeMond keeps making comments like this one without any backing. It's one thing if the USADA comes out and says this with backup, but LeMond just keeps spouting them out. I have to agree with Landis that LeMond does misinterpret conversations (and I'm not talking about the one with the manager) and is living a little on the paranoia side of life.
Cycling is in a mess right now. The testing process doesn't appear to be working. Either they test everybody, every day to the full extent or they cut it out all together.
There is nothing worse than disqualifying a rider weeks after the race. If one out of six results come up negative go with the odds. The way it sounds right now, most of the peloton are doping, so where is the advantage? How come we really don't hear about riders doping "after the fact" on other smaller races. There has to be a way to do this.
Armstrong was, from what I've heard, is one of the most tested athletes, yet we are still hearing allegations of him doping. Hell if Armstrong did dope, he should be given an award for pulling off one of the biggest hoaxes ever.
LeMond, pay attention to Eddy Merckx. You do not see him spouting off at all. He states his opinions without trying to pass them off as facts. That is a true champion. Eddy is letting the process (as bad as it is right now) speak
Anyone can say anything but it is not proof! At least that is what we are to believe if you read the news coming from cycling these days. So why does everyone continue to say that LeMond is a Saint and never, ever used any illegal substances?
That is easy to say when there are no samples left to be tested. I am not saying he is lying but let's not paint him a Saint and crucify everyone else just because he says so.
It is important to focus on the facts and direct evidence in the Floyd Landis arbitration hearing, though recent developments do provide a distraction from that dedication.
Greg LeMond apparently shared very private and sensitive information with Mr. Landis. Regardless of the reason for Greg sharing this information, this information should not have been shared out of respect of basic human dignity. Neither Greg Lemond's character nor his past actions are justification for sharing such private and personal information without explicit permission from Greg.
Floyd Landis obviously shared this information with at least one person, his business manager. Whether or not one believes Floyd, one thing is clear: Floyd's character did not lead him to keep confidential this very sensitive information.
Unfortunately the last two years of sport drug scandals have witnessed any number of instances wherein an athlete's lack of personal character has been revealed through denials and later revelations of truth. Though similar faults in character may be a condition found in the general public more often than we desire, I prefer not to experience it in athletes I admire and support.
It was bad enough that Lance Armstrong took cycling and brought it to the pages of People magazine. Floyd Landis has single handily made US cycling a joke and a sport that clearly shows it has no respect for its elders and no camaraderie. The sport has reached an all time low internationally with excuses like "attempted doping" and now the new "if I am asked for DNA then I will quit."
Whatever. Not to be outdone the US-accused athlete brought the matter to an all time low and to a laughing stock within the major media. Business managers making threatening and prank calls on a very serious and personal and private matter. Floyd himself boasted publicly that things would "come out" that would make LeMond sorry. And then being so childish as to ditch the yellow tie in favor of all the all-black Johnny Cash look on the day LeMond took the stand.
Can you imagine Lebron James disrespecting Patrick Ewin or Michael Jordan like Landis just did to LeMond. Or Alex Rodriguez saying the same about The Babe. It's pathetic and embarrassing that as a long-time cyclist (both racer and fan) my role models and public figures have stooped to this level.
Greg LeMond does have his faults, but everyone needs realize that as an individual he contributed to American cycling more than anyone else, ever. Sure license applications to race went up after Armstrong, but there never would have been any US cycling program were it not for LeMond, and Armstrong et al. benefited from said program tremendously.
I have met Armstrong and LeMond. Floyd, though, had a special place with me as I used to race against him as a mountain biker and vividly recall waiting with him and talking together in the rider tent at the 24 hours of Canaan back in the salad days of 24 hour team mountain bike racing. He was a legend even back then. Today, though, he has shamed himself and his sport and, in my mind, he will never overcome what he has done to himself.
This is a sad and pathetic day for our sport.
Let us say that we believe Landis did not dope himself, but that his dope tests do contain synthetic testosterone. Then the only logical conclusion is that the dope was administered to him without his knowledge.
Why do businesses sponsor teams? To get publicity. How do you get publicity? By winning races. Landis had a bad day, followed by a brilliant day. Isn't it possible that his teams desire to get the win and get the publicity, that Landis' food, drink, whatever, was spiked without his knowledge by someone on the team?
I don't know why Landis is not pursuing this avenue of defence, if he is innocent of self-doping, this must be the only way it happened.
Floyd has painted himself into a corner. Just like a trapped wild animal, he will stop at nothing to break free. His attack on Greg Lemond and the dragging of Greg's personal past is the lowest of the low.
I keep wondering why Floyd Landis would not simply take a third party polygraph exam in order to prove to his supporters and doubters that he was indeed drug free during the 2006 Tour de France? The evidence of such an exam may not be admissible in the hearings, but it would be powerful in the court of public opinion if he can pass such a test.
I read with a great sense of disgust at the bizarre turn of events at the Landis arbitration this week. I applaud Greg LeMond's courage and integrity in his advice to Landis to tell the truth and his cautionary advice about the negative power of secrets.
The only way Will Geoghegan could have known about the LeMond secret was to hear it from Landis. Since we know Landis' antipathy toward LeMond, I presume Landis must have at a minimum tacitly given his consent to use the very private information against LeMond in the ridiculous means to intimidate perpetrated through Will Geoghegan.
First, Will Geoghegan should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. His behaviour was disgusting and absolutely reprehensible. Second, the authorities should probe to see if Landis conspired with Geoghegan, and if that fact is established, Floyd, too should be prosecuted for witness tampering.
Finally, Will Geoghegan should have absolutely no place in cycling. He, in my opinion, should be banned from the sport, in all aspects, for life. We do not need to affirm in any way his behaviour by letting him back into the sport. Seems like we have the "blame it on the beer" defence brewing in the backdrop already.
Landis by sharing the very private nature of LeMond's secret showed his contemptuous attitude toward someone who was giving him some valuable advice. It appears to me the contemptuous nature of his attitude carried through to Geoghegan. Floyd you showed me your true colours very publicly yesterday, and those colours were in fact dark and character diminishing for you in my book.
So you fired Will Geoghegan on the spot, big deal; have you renounced his comments and assured us that you had no connection to them, perhaps you will deny any genesis of the intimidation; lets remember, however, at a minimum you disclosed that information to Geoghegan and that was enough for me to understand your true nature.
In my book, the doping offense is the least worrisome issue on your plate.
Douglas D. Penner
Starting with the initial allegations of doping by Landis, I made up my mind that he would never have been so stupid as to engage in doping in full knowledge that he would be tested later. It seemed to me that the evil worse than getting caught doping would be exposure to the world as an idiot.
Now that we've seen the character of the men he surrounds himself with (read: Will Geoghegan), I've changed my mind. Now I think that Floyd did, indeed, inject testosterone, and that it worked far beyond his wildest hopes.
It's the classic male brain on testosterone, thinking only about smashing one's opponents so thoroughly they'll never recover. Sorry, Floyd, to judge you by the character of your friends, but they're often a good judge of one's own character.
I can hardly believe that story about Greg LeMond and his testimony in the Landis trial. That is one of the most disgusting things I've ever heard in connection with the world of cycling...that they would apparently use something like that against LeMond to keep him quiet. If Landis was in on that, he should be punished by the legal system in addition to being banned from cycling for, say, eight or ten years.
Anders P. Jensen
I'm not trying to be cynical here but if all the performance enhancing drugs that Joe Papp took were really helping him, then he would have shown us a few wins. I guess everybody gets my point here.
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