Saturday, July 29, 2006

Flawed Landis: Victim of a French Conspiracy?


Floyd Landis. Or shall we call him Flawed Landis?

Much has been written about the disgraced cyclist who briefly flirted with fame, then made that tortuous journey to the blackhole of cheaters. People familiar with black holes will tell you crossing the event horizon even once seals your fate. There's no coming back. That's how nature works.

Asterixed, forever. Sorry Landis.

For a sport tarnished with doping scandals (last year's elites ranking second to sixth were pulled out of this year's race because they were implicated in a Spanish doping investigation) this is a major blow. I am, however, more concerned about our storybook hero turned villain--Flawed Landis.

His sample A has indicated a higher ratio of testosterone and epitestosterone than the permissible 4:1. For ordinary mortals like us, the ratio is 1:1. He believes, like most other informed people, the second sample will not indicate anything different which means he has to relinquish his Tour de France title. From now on, he is going to be remembered as just another bloke who doped and got caught in the process.

He's in good company: Tim Montgomery, Marion Jones and Tyler Hamilton, the former skipper of his current cycling team, and the list goes on.

Landis vows to clear his name. Good luck with that.

He also claims this is a natural occurrence. As ESPN reports:
"We will explain to the world why this is not a doping case but a natural occurrence," Landis said from the Spanish capital.
The problem is, a natural occurence must show up naturally every time Landis gets medically tested. It is fair to presume that in his entire cycling career he was tested at least dozens of times. Is there any corroborating evidence to support his "natural" proposition? Methinks not.

The final twist to this already bizzare scenario comes from none other than the legendary Lance Armstrong who questioned the authenticity of the Lab that carried out the tests. Needless to say, Lance enjoys little or no love with the testing labs. If you recall, when he wasn't pedaling he was busy suing people to clear himself from the allegations.

Lance was quoted in ESPN as saying,
"Secondly, I can't help but be aware the lab that found this suspicious reading is the same one that was at the center of the 'L'Equipe affair."

The French newspaper, L'Equipe, said samples taken from Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France and then frozen tested positive for the blood-booster EPO. The International Cycling Union commissioned a report that later cleared Armstrong of the doping allegations.

"When an independent investigator contacted the lab, they wouldn't answer the simplest of questions, wouldn't go into their testing ethics, who did the tests, etc., etc.," Armstrong said. "I don't personally have a ton of faith in that lab. I think they should lose their authorization and the report pretty much supports that."

We haven't heard the last as yet.



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