Monday, May 14, 2007

Early Monday Roundup

Pepperdine University, site of today's Landis hearings.

Floyd Landis and Michael Henson arrive this morning at the arbitration hearing at Pepperdine University Law School.

Due to what is expected to be very large volumes of information during the Landis Hearings, TBV has made the decision to split the Roundup into two more easily read sections. Until the hearings end there will be an "Early Roundup", and a "Late Roundup".

The LA Times Michael Hiltzik, who has written extensively on the Landis case, covers a lot of ground in his pre-hearing article printed this AM. In it he summarizes what has led over the past 10 months to where Floyd Landis is now, standing at the beginning of what is expected to be a 10 day arbitration hearing taking place at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.:

Dozens of journalists from around the world, as well as many other interested observers, have applied for credentials to attend. While athletes always have had the option to insist upon public hearings, Landis is the first to do so.
The situation represents a potential watershed for a system that has invariably wielded its power to end athletes' careers and brand them as cheats behind closed doors.

Many legal experts have expressed opinion on the potential for fairness within the three member arbitration panel system,and while some feel it will be fairly applied Hiltzik quotes Judge Bill Hue who has written extensively about the Floyd Landis case in the past:

I'd been reading things about the case and saying, 'It can't be like that,' " says William Hue, a Wisconsin trial judge and recreational cyclist who has become a prolific online commentator on legal issues in the case. Once he began examining the specifics of the case, especially pre-hearing rulings by the arbitrators, he concluded, "This doesn't look like a very just system."

In any case, against the backdrop of a complaint to be filed by Landis with the IOC against Dick Pound, head of WADA, a long and contentions battle lies ahead.

KCRA posts an AP piece that other outlets have widely quoted this morning. It summarizes what most other stories this morning have about the Landis hearings scheduled to start in a couple of hours, but also adds that for USADA and WADA this in merely another case and is "business as usual". For Landis it's a bit more:

Although the case has been a lot of work, he insists it hasn't been so hard on him because he knows he's innocent.This has all been part of a whirlwind 10 months for Landis, who also has weathered his father-in-law's suicide and undergone state-of-the-art hip-replacement surgery in hopes of being ready if he is restored to cycling. "I can't change what this situation is. I can't change what other people have done," he said. "We've got to make the best of it."

The San Diego Union Tribune publishes its piece on the beginning of nearby Murrieta,CA resident Floyd Landis' hearing with USADA which begins in a matter of hours, and tells us what it may take to win in the age of mass media. The piece by Mark Zeigler, starts with last week's final FFF event held in San Diego before 300 family members, friends, and supporters, and goes through a review of what might be expected of the upcoming proceedings at Pepperdine. Acrimony has reigned on both sides of the fight between USADA and Landis, who has been very public and very vocal with his criticisms of the anti doping agency. Landis says he expects nothing less from USADA now that they will be free to speak:

“Believe me, they will try a lot of things, because frankly their science case is nonexistent,” Landis said. “They will try to discredit everything I've ever said and everything I've ever done.”

And people versed in the art of PR say that we have only heard one side of this issue thus far:

“Any athlete is certainly privileged to go out and speak to the press and hire a PR firm,” says Dr. Gary Wadler, a respected anti-doping expert from New York University. “But when one side has to be silent by virtue of code, it's only one side of the story and it's of limited to no value. All kinds of assertions are being made, but they're just assertions

A side bar to the above article contains a Q&A in the essentials of the arbitration hearing for Tour de France champion Floyd Landis. Below Landis is pictured at the fund raiser in San Diego held last week.

FoxSports Andrew Vontz previews the Landis hearing scheduled to begin in just hours, by noting scientific opinion that the disputed tests performed last summer after the Tour de France are considered "bulletproof". Still the Landis team has many cogent arguments to be considered after a rather undistinguished start by Landis in his own defense last summer. The future of how fans perceive sports may also be on trial, and cycling has already been influenced by doping with dropping sponsorship, canceled races, and other riders recently implicated in PED use scandals

The Landis trial portents the future of sports, where winners will be decided by panels of scientific experts in courtrooms instead of on the field, and fans will always wonder whether winners Live Strong or just Dope Strong.

NPR's "Morning Edition" presented a story about the beginning today of the Floyd Landis vs USADA hearings. The audio is now available. In it, Frank Shorter, former Olympian and USADA head, states that he has seen athletes make PR attacks on the agency before:

"I'm gonna make a checklist of all those accusations and then on Monday, I'm going to see just what emerges in the opening statements of the hearing," Shorter said. "And then when the hearing's over, I'm gonna go through that checklist again."

The VeloNews interviews Oscar Pereiro who watches today's hearings with interest as he might be the beneficiary of a finding against Landis and be named the 2006 Tour de France champion..

France 24 provides a brief AFP summary of today's start of the Landis vs USADA hearings in California. Landis is expected to testify on his own behalf, and other witnesses will be called by both sides of the dispute as the three arbitrators sift through the scientific evidence.

The CyclingNews Laura Weislo covers the beginning of today's USADA vs Floyd Landis hearings with a summary of the events that led to the courtroom drama that is slated to begin in several hours:

When Floyd Landis walks into the Darling Trial Courtroom at Pepperdine University’s School of Law in Malibu (whose Dean is none other than Kenneth W. Starr), the cyclist enters into a process that could lead to salvation or damnation.

Or more likely, it will lead to more legal costs and hearings. But whatever the outcome, the cycling world hopes this sad, damaging case will be resolved once and for all

The hearings which could be bogged down in the huge amount of scientific data which both sides are prepared to present, will likely change forever how athletes and the anti-doping establishment deal with each other.

BikeBiz covers the start of the hearings too saying that is will change the world of "anit-doping". BikeBiz also challenges the fairness of the hearing itself by pointing out improprieties that have occurred with two of the three arbitrators.

Flagged for Follow Up doesn't see why everyone blames only Floyd Landis for difficulties in cycling, after all doping allegations have dogged many other riders as well, and this actually could be a good time for someone to get into cycling sponsorship.

Quickrelease TV provides two youtube videos of Floyd Landis. One is a production done by the FFF, and the other is from last summer's Stage 17 with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwan commentating about the slow reaction of the peloton to Landis' escape.

Recovox News wonder if after the hearings conclude, Floyd Landis will face salvation or damnation?

Dugard is hopiung that Floyd Landis is vindicated at the hearings in Malibu starting today, but he feels that nothing short of a miracle will provide the results he would like to see.

Pommi wants us to watch out for the kangaroos, and provides picture so we know what to look for.

Rant asks if the riders are ready? The Landis hearings start today and it's sure to be a roller coaster ride when USDA finally starts answering the public accusations made by the Landis camp. Rant also wonders if there will be bombshells lobbed, and thinks that it is a real likelihood.

Crossed Swords emphasizes that the Floyd Landis thus far has definitely represented the " thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat."

The Cycliste Moderne
thinks that Floyd Landis has taken no prisoners in his fight against doping charges in a blog that summarizes the umseemly PED scandals that presently, and regrettably, fill the news of the cycling world. Cycliste doesn't know if Landis doped or not, but if he did Floyd is the stupidest person on the planet since he should have know testing would be employed after his stage 17 comeback.

The Daily Spin
summarizes the weekend's cycling events including the start of the Landis hearings.

20 Million Minutes notes that " it all begins today" and summarizes what we may expect from the Landis hearings while hoping that Floyd is a man of truth and honor.

The notes that FINALLY the hearings begin today in the Floyd Landis vs USADA saga. Unfortunately, he has little hope that Floyd will come out on top.

c10a from MySpace wants us all to reflect on what will be occurring today with Floyd Landis in the courtroom in California where he will face huge media coverage of his USADA arb hearing. May justice prevail and truth be found indeed. And btw, thanks for the plug.

Steroid Nation discusses the beginning of today's Landis vs USADA hearings at Pepperdine, and no matter what the out come he admires the perseverence and determination exemplified thus far in Floyd's quest for justice.