Thursday, February 22, 2007

What are the ways out?

The new information of the week is suggesting the ADA case is getting weaker and weaker over time. We have been wondering from time to time how the case might be terminated short of a hearing that will be expensive and painful for all parties.

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In San Jose, Landis said something on point that may offer a clue to the way the agencies can retreat from the limb of the tree they currently occupy.

It shouldn't be about winning, it should be about finding the truth. If your 158-0 record is important, sometime it's going to end.

They shouldn't see it as a loss if it turns out to be a mistake.

Let's run through some actors and scenarios.

USADA might take something apparent now that they have the AFLD LDP as a justification for saying that the evidence is flawed, and unsupportable because of the discrepancies and/or errors revealed with the new data. This would punt the case to WADA and the UCI for possible appeal to CAS, which would avoid that annoying public hearing and take the prosecution out of the USADA budget.

The UCI might be happy stringing things out as part of their war with ASO and Le Tour. All scenarios work for the UCI at this point. If Landis wins, then the ASO used a bad lab and can't be trusted to police its events. If Landis drags on, then there is no champion befor this years race is run, with commercial implications. If Landis loses, eventually, it still hurts ASO. Therefore, whether the UCI would appeal an attempt to drop the case by USADA is unclear.

WADA has a problem with what to do about the lab that they accredit. Anything short of a solid conviction brings their credibility into question. The worst scenario is a public hearing where they lose and get exposed. Next worse is one that gets to closed arbitration, but still loses. From a damage perspective, is it better to let it drop quietly, hoping to bury the bodies, or to lose in arbitration?

AFLD and M. Bordry have the most difficult dilemma. It appears they can either back the LNDD up, and suffer the possible consequences, or become shocked, shocked at what they have discovered and do a massive cleanup now that it has finally come to their attention.

The LNDD appears to have significant problems that will be very difficult to get under wraps. What has been revealed so far calls their ISO accreditation into question.

The ISO accreditors who have stamped the LNDD's ticket may find themselves under scrutiny in the near future. How could they not have caught the sort of violations that seem to be getting revealed like the layers of an onion?

Let's say some party decides it wants to crawl back from the branch, without it being perceived as their own fault. How could this be done? It seems like the victim is going to have to be the LNDD. Would the hand be AFLDs, or ISOs, or WADAs?

From the Agency point of view, it might be convenient for it to be ISO. AFLD can be shocked, and WADA can say it wasn't their accreditation that was broken. USADA can say they believed what they were told, and now presented new information, agrees to dismiss. This seems to cover most of the posteriors, but might take a while.

Alternately, we might imagine WADA finally doing an audit of LNDD, and withdrawing accreditation. We see no willingness by WADA to do this, so it seems like only a technical possibility.

Another prospect would be for AFLD to act on its own, which would take some courage, or a newly minted justification. How could AFLD act? Maybe it could do its own internal review of the evidence and declare the results invalid, and order LNDD to send one of those letters withdrawing the finding. That would remove the ability for WADA and the UCI to appeal, which could lead to the swiftest resolution.

If there were a deal, what kind of compromise would the Landis side be willing to accept to help an agency save face? We're almost scared to mention one of the most common side effects in a settlement of litigation, which an agreement to shred all the evidence that has been discovered one way or the other, and a gag order on the parties.

Many of Landis' Wiki-defense supporters would be very disappointed and left feeling betrayed if Landis won in a way that silenced his criticism of the process and buried what he has found out.

But it's his life and career at stake.

In the plate of ham and eggs before us, Landis is the pig, absolutely committed to the result. His supporters and critics are merely involved, clucking.

As much as we'd like to see everything else, what has already transpired has thrown a spotlight onto the flawed doping enforcement process. Maybe just taking the win will be good enough, and let Landis get back on his bike, where he belongs.

[end]


16 comments:

cal said...

TBV,

Does that mean that Landis would be totally exonerated? And would he require that some public statement be made to that effect if he were to agree to this -not simply just a withdrawal by LNDD of the findings and therefore exoneration by inference.

And what about all the financial losses which he has incurred? Isn't Dick Pound very suspectible to a lawsuit for his inflammatory statements?

Anonymous said...

Interesting Analysis TBV. One small Question; Who is holding all the cards at this moment?

First let me tell you who doesn't have the cards, USADA, WADA, AFLD, LNDD, ASO, or CAS. If you ask me, its Floyd. I just hope he realizes this, nahh, I'm sure he does. Team Landis has the cards in Ace's and Spades and they gets to call the shots on how this goes down and who take's the perverbial silver bullet.

When you've got 5 bucks hanging around the feeder and you want trophies, you size them up from biggest to smallest then you look for the clean shot on the biggest one you can get, line him up in the scope and take that big boy down.

Atown, Tx.

Jim T said...

Let's not count chickens that haven't hatched. Remember that as bad as USADA's case looks, we still haven't heard anything from them yet. They may be able to answer all Floyd's points to the satisfaction of the arbitrators. Also remember that the arbitrators are bound by the WADA code, which basically says that WADA can do no wrong.

You may remember Zach Lund, the winter Olympian whom EVERYONE, including USADA and the arbitrators, agreed had done nothing wrong. He still got a ban.

Don't want to throw cold water on everything, but Floyd hasn't even begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thomas A. Fine said...

You know if Floyd did have all the ammo he needed to clear himself and also make some changes for the better, he'd be acting basically exactly the way he's acting now - happy, confident. Keeping all his cards close to his chest. In no hurry to settle, because he's decided to try to fix things instead of merely winning. One can only hope.

By the way, person from Atown, Tx, do you happen to know Lance, and is he into hunting too? I could see him taking it up, perhaps on the hope of a hunting trip with his best buddy Lemond ;)

tom

Anonymous said...

TAF,

No, I don't know Lance personally. I've seen him riding around town with the Black Suburban in tow and I meet him at his one and only appearance at a cyclocross race where he turned the jet's on and left Will Black , an American cross great, in the dust on his way to prepare for his cyclocross detour in the TDF. He was still married at the time and the whole family was there, it was really cool seeing and meeting Lance and family in a small race atmosphere with no reporters and just a few fans.

Don't know if he is into hunting, but he has a huge ranch in deer country, If anything he can take LeMond down one of the MTB trails on the ranch and if LeMond is lucky hell only come out with a few broken bones like Eki did ;)

Atown, Tx.

pelotonjim said...

The only way to end this is if the ADAs have an honorable way out that saves face. I just don't see that so it'll be a bloddy mess where everyone will walk away tarnished.

strbuk said...

I keep thinking of the terrible price the Landis family has had to pay through all of this. How could it all be made up for in any way?

pelotonjim said...

strbuk, I agree. I need to keep reminding myself that while this may seem comical at times, there is a man with a family trying to make their way through this world the best way they know how.

I'm not sure I'd have that strength.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone can undue what has already been done, but I do know the best way to start. Put the man back where he belongs! On his bike, at the front!
Thanks again Floyd for the best TDF in many years. Here is to many more to come.
Mike
Green MTN.
Ephrata, PA.

Anonymous said...

ORG here ...

TBV et al.

We seem to be having a conversation among ourself. Where is Hitlik at the LA Times, or l' equipe? When (or why) aren't they hammering Bordry and/or the LNDD with the "what the hell did you guys do" questions? Why does it seem everyone covering this affair is stuck in a time warp back in late July still crticizing the "excuse d'jour?" When are they going to catch up and start asking the tough questions to the right people?

scifitwin said...

In a sense, no matter what happens, Floyd's impact has been set. No other athlete has caused such a large number of fans to begin to think critically about the issues surrounding doping beyond that it's bad and we don't want it in the sport. I think many of us are looking at the culture of doping differently and take a much less myopic view of the agencies that not only govern our sport but that make sweeping decisions regarding international athletes, even when those decisions are just plain wrong.

Floyd stands to become something of a Curt Flood of international sport if things play out the way they seem to be playing out. This will be especially true if doping reform and athletes rights really are important to the powers that be and are revised to be fair to the athlete implicated while pursuing the proper punitive outcome; even if the outcome is that there is no punitive outcome.

The danger for the athletes is that even if the outcome ends in their favor, they still may fall into the Liberty Valance trap with the media and public perception: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

daniel m (a/k/a Rant) said...

TBV,

You've covered the "where do we go from here" story from just about every angle I can imagine and put the numerous possibilities out there. Now comes the waiting to see just which way this plays out.

I'm curious as to what, if anything, Floyd will have to compromise on in order to bring this case to a close. I'm not sure what he'll choose to do, but given that it's his livelihood at stake, I'd be hard pressed to criticize whatever path he takes.

All I can do is wish him godspeed and hope that it will ultimately work out well for him and his family. The price they've paid up to now seems staggering.

- Rant

Anonymous said...

ORG here ....

One quick follow up to my earlier post. TBV, if you did not attend this events, how would we know what was said? It seems that you are the only one reporting on the information at these events.

Evantually this will become a BIG BIG story and where is the mainstream media?

tbv@trustbut.com said...

Hiltzik just published a piece going over the ground, and I expect Bonnie DiSimone of ESPN to publish soon as well.

We are not alone. The truth is out there -- new information has been revealed.

TBV

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a supporter of Floyd's defense and the cause of protecting athletes' rights and I wouldn't feel the slightest bit betrayed or disappointed if a scenario like you suggest plays out. If they resolve the matter amicably and Floyd gets back on his bike, everybody wins. The agencies would in effect be admitting fault and that there needs to be reform and (in an effort to rehabilitate their credibility)would hopefully work towards improving the system as a result of the shortcomings of the system that the Landis case brought to the forefront. Isn't that a win for supporters of athletes' rights? Isn't that the ultimate goal to begin with? Reform in an effort to improve the system?

Anonymous said...

The lab's ISO 17025 accreditation lasts for 2 years. We don't know when the last audit was done. The auditors only certify that the lab has the proper procedures in place and has a history of following those procedures. Further regular internal audits are required, which are overseen by the lab's Quality Manager.

I still think Landis should attempt to call the lab's Quality Manager as a witness. He or She could speak to the results of the internal audit.

I don't see any chance that the case will be terminated. Landis' results are much too compelling for that to happen.
-Ferren