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.