Friday, April 27, 2007

A Look at Landis from Both Sides...

As someone who has spent years as a professional journalist, I try very hard to remain neutral when it comes to certain things related to reporting...even when I am a fan. If you search my site, knowing I am a big Patriots and a big Red Sox fan, you will find articles that are often critical of my favorite teams. I'm a fan, but I understand reality.

I don't give players or the team a pass when I think they have screwed up.

Shades of guilt?
I have to all the doping scandal involving Floyd Landis, I think he screwed up. I don't know that he actually doped...he might not have, he might have. I do know that his initial reaction is problematic in the court of public opinion.

In the immediate aftermath of the first test Landis, a former teammate and domestique of perennial accusee Lance Armstrong launched into a variety of excuses for why the tests came back positive for elevated levels of testosterone. I freely admit to being no doctor, but the lines about ingesting the alcohol and the line, “now there's also the possibility, and it's an argument that has been used by other people. At this point, I don't know if it's somehow or some way I ingested something that caused the tests to be that way,” that he gave Jay Leno both ring hollow.

This led Landis to fall back on the stand-by of pointing the finger at the lab, which typically smacks of desperation.

Reasonable doubt...
Let's look at some of the surface issues here, I won't even delve too deep.

Landis has been able to fall back on the lab because, let's face it, this lab has had a history of mishandling samples.

Landis finds himself caught in a "perfect storm" type of scenario. Consider the following - cycling as a sport in recent years has garnered a reputation as a haven for the performance enhanced, particularly blood dopers. Cycling's governing body decided it was finally time to crack down hard on suspected cheaters - bouncing some of cyclings' biggest names, including Jan Ulrich and Ivan Basso, before the Tour even got underway last year. Couple that with the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Dick Pound's), profound and even slanderous contempt of Lance Armstrong and a growing resentment of American riders dominating the French event (wins in 10 of the last 20 years - Greg LeMond twice, Armstrong seven times, and Landis once) and what do you have? A situation in which being able to disqualify the winner gives the IOC the biggest trophy of all in cleaning up their sport.

I'm not saying this is what has happened, but I don't believe this is outside the realm of possibility.

Even those believing in Landis' guilt - which I admit is a possibility - I pose to you the following questions -

If WADA was convinced that there was no possible way that the test on the A sample was wrong, then why require representatives of USADA to be present when Landis' representative is present?

If the USADA rep couldn't be present, then why not reschedule?

In 2004 two riders were kicked out of the Tour after doping investigations. Is there some reason that the IOC's and WADA's people were unable to complete an investigation with enough time to prevent Landis from crossing that finish line? They were able to do it in 2004.

Also, with historical issues with the lab, would it really have been so difficult to farm the test out to a different lab that both parties could agree on?

Due process has been negligible at best throughout the course of this affair, and I am only scratching the surface here. And I think it's safe to say that it doesn't look like he will get a fair hearing from doping officials.

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