Thursday, July 27, 2006

Floyd Landis doping "scandal".

Oh man, what a day. On the way to work this morning, I was listening to NPR when I heard the news that the positive doping result from the Tour was being attributed to Floyd Landis. My jaw dropped and I frantically began looking for my buddy Donna's phone number to freak out for a moment.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to believe that there aren't dopers in the peloton, and that leaves room for Floyd to possibly be among them. I have to admit though, I really don't want to believe that he could actually be guilty. I really don't. I don't actually know Floyd, but I have had the pleasure of riding with the man since he lives relatively nearby and does some of the same winter training rides when home. I've probably said a grand total of 5-6 words to the guy, but I guess that makes me feel something of a connection anyway. Add to that, the fact that he appears to be a legitimately nice guy and you've got compelling reasons to want to believe him.


For now, until he either confesses or the tests prove beyond a doubt that he did something wrong, I am going to believe his innocence... unlike the press and WADA head Dick Pound.

Here is my big gripe with all of this; he hasn't been proven guilty of ANYTHING and yet he is being treated as if he is. His mother has fled her home to get away from the army of press assholes hounding her constantly, looking for something good to print. The press has a right to do their jobs, but the poor woman has a right to be left the hell alone too. If I were her, I'd be on the porch with a firehose chasing the filthy maggots off my lawn... but I'm a jerk like that.

In the current environment, any rider under speculation is considered guilty until proven innocent, but then they are "tainted" afterwards. Well, unless you are Richard Virenque and deny any wrongdoing for a couple years, have a teary confession and rat out other folks- then the French press and fans will welcome you back with loving arms and treat you like a national hero... but I digress. The first sample has been tested, that's all, and yet the presumption is instantly that he did something wrong. Forget that the rider in question is Floyd. It wouldn't matter- the process is flawed. Look at the Operation Puerto crap; Basso and Ullrich were named as patients of the shifty doctor at the center of this all. "Named", but they haven't failed any tests- ever. Both are suspended from racing and Ullrich was even fired by his team. Add to that the Astana-Wurth team getting pulled from the Tour, the team of Alexandre Vinokourov- a legitimate contender to win. Now the riders who were under suspicion were cleared... one week after the Tour is over and after Vino was robbed of a chance to win... because of "suspicion". That's just wrong and it needs to stop.

Again, don't get me wrong- I hate dopers. They have damaged the sport and tainted the public so that the current environment exists. This is all their fault in reality. Still, the procedures need to change and the riders need to be given due process before their livelihoods and teams are drug through the mud on suspicion, versus facts. Maybe Floyd, Basso and Ullrich really are guilty, but they deserve the chance to allow the system to come to a final conclusion before pundits and other "experts" condemn them and their actions- that includes Dick Pound and WADA.

Maybe I'm way off base and you are welcome to tell me your thoughts as usual. I wouldn't be surprised by any rider testing positive for drug use- the sport is just too damned hard and the money/ fame/ pressure is too great to believe they wouldn't be tempted. BUT... it is unfair to presume that they are all tainted property and that clean riders can't win now.

Tim

16 comments:

skraut said...

Tim, you are right on. See my blog for further comment.

Donna Tocci said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this, Tim. A voice of reason. Every bit of it. I agree with you 100%. Even the firehose.

Phil said...

Obviously we're poles apart on some aspects of this Tim, as I'm a supporter of Pound and WADA and I think he's been getting righter every day. Yep, his tactics are rough, but cheating and then lying to your friends, fans etc is a lot rougher in my books.

Sure, you could argue for due process, but remember the legal syslems in different countries treat burden of proof differently. And of course some Euro countries have sporting fraud on the books.

Though difficult at the moment, I think it's important not to view this entirely through the prism of the American system. I think a bit more flexibility is needed to work our way through this or it ain't gonna change.

The fact of suspicion to my mind was a justified reason to withdraw Astana and Vino, if he had won and the magistrates then found guilt we'd be right where we are now. A PR shambles on a huge scale and everyone wondering why we let the guy/team compete.

Anyway, not wanting to leave this without a positive comment, I'd like to propose one small solution to doping.

No rider should be allowed to have a doctor or trainer outside of the formal team structure under any circumstances, everything from training to medical has to be taken care of by the team the rider is contracted to. Landis' special needs included.

Outside contact with a competing practicioner to that provided by the team is immediate grounds for dismissal.

T-Mobile looks to have started the ball rolling in that regard.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

skraut; thanks for agreeing, but I can't get to your blog for some reason. Care to post the address here so I can go give it a read?

Donna; why'd I think you might agree?

Phil; I'll comment further, but one of the things I enjoy most about "civilized" discourse is the ability for freinds to disagree. We don't really have that big of a gap between us on this really.

Thanks for each of your comments- I know we're nowhere near done on this.

reva said...

Firehose--I'd be tempted to find something that shots fire out instead of water, but then I am a mean ole heifer.

Proper protocol not being followed is just wrong in my book. Follow the protocol, people. It is not fair to ignore it. If it is not going to be followed, why is it even in place?

stupid said...

I agree that he's innocent till proven guilty. And I think it's terrible that mom had to flee her home.

But... There was only a cloud of suspecion till Phonak confirmed that it was Floyd that came up positive with his A sample.

Once out, of course the press is going to go ahead and smear anyone.

I think that if Phonak and Landis can aggressivly pursue any reasons that the samples would be positive, that are plausable, he can redeem himself. But if he just sits back thinking that it will all blow over, then we'll have another Hamilton situation.

In the end, unfortunatly, most all bike racing will be suspect to performance enhancing. And that's not going away. I had posted on my blog that I felt this was the cleanest tour we've had in at least 15 years. But I can not say it is a clean race. The racers and the doctors are always going to be a step ahead. It's big marketing dollars at work. And it's only cheating if you're caught. If your levels are "normal" then you're not cheating. Right?

I really hope Landis came prove he's clean. But I don't expect it.

Sascha said...

I believe in Floyd. I totally believe he's innocent.

IB Rich said...

Innocent until proven guilty? Would a positive B sample be the proof? If so, Landis himself doesn't hold out much hope. In an interview with Sports Illustrated on-line yesterday, he said that he has no reason to believe that the B sample will be any different than the A.
I just hope that the elevated levels of testosterone are a side-effect of one of his legitimate treatments for his hip and the newly revealed thyroid problem and not a testosterone patch on his scrotum (which I learned yesterday is how it's done - when it's done intentionally).
I believe that the cause of the elevated levels will be irrelevant to the testers unless it is a natural condition and he will be stripped of the Tour win (Remember Scott Moninger's contaminated vitamins that got him banned a few years ago?).
I would just feel better about him if it turns out to have been an unexpected side effect.

steelrider2 said...

INNOCENT!

steelrider2 said...

better yet INNOCENT! to the tenth power

blue squirrel said...

from floyds doctor [Brent Kay] on larry king live:
"the one time use of testosterone would have no benefits since this is a product that needs to be administered over the course of a few weeks to have a positive influence on cycling performance"

Donna Tocci said...

I saw Larry King Live last night, too. I have to say that I tend to believe him. I know the cycling world and fans are jaded right now, but each case deserves a fair shake. Floyd should be given that fairness, too. Glad he showed up on that show and isn't hiding. Glad to hear that his parents are doing well because they are, "tough". Seems as though they passed that on to their son.

Mercy Now said...

This French lab that is in charge of testing is the same one that stated Armstrong was doping. When an outside committee looked into it and asked the lab about their methods, they refused to cooperate. Anyway, after a thorough investigation by this outside committee, Armstrong is now cleared. I read this from an MSNBC.com article last night but can't find it now. All this is to say that this French Lab has its own agenda and cannot be trusted. There should be an independent committee that looks into this.

Bianca said...

I agree about the French lab. I think they need to find an independent source. Obviously that lab has proven that it can't be trusted. I'm not saying they did something to Floyd's or Lance's test, but there are some ethical issues going on there. The fact that the lab can't even be trusted to keep the test results to themselves for fear of a leak to le Equipe? Completely unprofessional and unacceptable.

I'm pretty excited to see the DVD though. I'm interested to see the whole Stage 17 again, through different eyes.

Anonymous said...

I'm not posting this to bless or blame Landis one way or the other, but to comment on the state of sports in general. It seems to me that doping has become prevelant in sports today due to money. Yes my friends, it's all about cold, hard cash these days. Has been for quite awhile actually. Not just the sport of cycling, but all sports. Sponsors invest millions, endorsment contracts do the same...athletes are under tremendous pressure to deliver wins. What happens to "for the love of the game" in this atmosphere? Maybe they should give medals for maintaining one's sanity in the face of extreme pressure regardless of whether there was an accusation of doping or not? Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Just read your comments. I agree. Something does not seem right in all this. I have continued to grab articles on Floyd and will continue to follow this to the bitter end, probably in a legal arena. Until then, I have to believe that Floyd is innocent and that somehow the system is flawed.

Wynn