Thursday, May 17, 2007

Early Thursday Roundup

Floyd Landis glances over at his parents, Paul and Arlene Landis, during his hearings at Pepperdine University Law School.

France 24 ,AFP, confirms that Eddie Merckx will NOT be testifying at the Landis hearings:

"What would I do over there?" asked the Belgian cycling legend, who had been called by the Landis defence team.

"I know nothing about this business and I don't see how I could help enlighten it," he said

ESPN's Bonnie DeSimone provides interesting insight into yesterday's Landis hearings in which the fate of not only Floyd Landis but also the LNDD may have rested on the testimony of lab technician Cynthia Mongongu. The sometimes confrontational cross examination of Mongongu by the Landis lawyers concentrated on her handling of the Landis samples from last summer following the Tour de France and the retesting of "B" samples in April :

Howard Jacobs then moved on to the testing of Landis' "B" samples in April, done after an unusual request by USADA. He challenged an affidavit Mongongu signed after the week-long testing was complete, in which she alleged that the observers sent by Landis "accosted'' her while she was trying to go about her business.

Mongongu said she felt crowded by the observers, who included approved observers from USADA. "It disturbed me,'' she said, when Paul Scott, a former official at the WADA-accredited laboratory at UCLA who is now working for Landis' defense, demanded to know what had happened when the top of a test tube containing a sample broke. She testified she eventually felt it necessary to put a strip of tape on the floor and ask the observers to stay behind it.

DeSimone also provides an interesting charting of tests/Tour stages , with some more detail on the status of the race at each stage.

Bicycling's Loren Mooney gives us a summary of Day 3 in the Landis hearings by writing that all of the issues brought up in yesterday's proceedings: chain of custody of samples, leaks from the LNDD to the media, and unexplained gaps between testing runs, will be rexamined when the Landis witnesses take the stand either Saturday or early next week. Today could be ugly with Greg LeMond taking the stand ostensibly to discredit Landis by exposing some kind of information that would be helpful to USADA:

I expect all of the issues brought up today to crop up again with more clarity when Landis's expert witnesses take the stand, likely Saturday or early next week. In the meantime, Greg LeMond will testify on Thursday. Apparently, he something to say that USADA believes will help its case against Landis. This is where LeMond says Floyd told him something incriminating, and then Floyd's team attempts a no-mercy cross-examination to show that LeMond is mistaken in his recollection. It could be a full-scale character assassination of the three-time Tour champ, which will be a sad day for cycling. It'll be can't miss viewing at Floyd if you like to watch slow motion crashes, that is.

Mooney also supplies lots of human interest insider information that lends humanity to the people participating in the hearings. Also be sure to access the audio reports that Mooney makes about the hearings.

The Times Online UK
this morning reports that Oscar Pereiro may also be implicated in Operation Puerto. Pereiro is last summer's Tour de France runner up and would stand to inherit the title from Floyd Landis pending the outcome of the Landis hearing.

The VeloNews sums up yesterday happenings in the Landis hearings by noting it was exclusively devoted to testimony from LNDD employee Cynthia Mongongu:

Howard Jacobs one of Landis' lawyers, also spent at least an hour addressing chain-of-custody issues, presenting a log sheet that showed time gaps in who at the lab was actually in possession of Landis samples. At one point Mongongu conceded that she'd taken possession of a sample at 11:20 and had it for just five minutes. But the ensuing entry was time stamped 12:45, and Mongongu was not able to explain the discrepancy. "No, I don't remember," she answered.

The reasoning here is that this lack of full accountability by the lab shows the possibility of manipulated testing procedures in order to get the reading it was looking for. At least that's what the Landis side hopes the three-man arbitration panel that will rule in this case decides. The hearing is slated to run until May 23. It will be at least another two weeks before a verdict in rendered. No matter what that outcome is, it's likely this is just a stop off on the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose ruling will be final.

Swimming World received several responses to it's article posted earlier this week about information leaks from the LNDD, readers expressed concern about the lack of confidentiality for swimmers and cyclists alike.

Newsweek's Mark Starr writes an overview of the difficult fight ahead for Floyd Landis in his battle to not only retain his Tour de France championship, but also his reputation:

In order to compete, athletes in Olympic sports are required to agree to this arbitration process, one in which USADA has yet to lose a case. The Landis team has mounted an expansive and expensive three-pronged attack against the charges. The first was Landis's repeated insistence that he did not take any illegal drugs. Denial is a necessary component of any defense, but by itself it is hardly convincing; virtually every athlete who has failed a drug test has initially proclaimed his or her innocence, a claim that seldom stands up. Next, Landis's team has attacked the science itself, using its own analysts to challenge the methods, procedures and conclusions of the French lab that conducted the tests.

Starr sees cycling's future not completely dependent on what happens in the Landis hearings, he feels that it has more trouble that just Floyd Landis.

ProCycling syays that the Landis team, which has success with Dr Brenna's testimony on Tuesday, found itself on the defensive yesterday with Cynthia Mongongu.

The CyclingNews provides coverage of Day Three of the Landis hearings by calling into attention the "drama' surrounding the dispute over allegedly not received "discovery" items needed to further Cynthia Mongongu's testimony.

PezCyclingNews gives us Eurotrash Thursday with a thumbnail of the happenings at the Landis hearings to date.

The LA Times Michale Hiltzik notes that during the testimony yesterday of Cynthia Mongongu "gaps" in the Landis testing procedures were exposed:

Defense lawyers for Tour de France champion Floyd Landis on Wednesday began building their case that the French laboratory that found he tested positive for testosterone is inept and dishonest, contending that its analytical records are rife with unexplained time gaps that may conceal efforts by lab personnel to manipulate test results.

The LA Times posts an AP piece from Eddie Pells that promises today's testimony from Greg LeMond may break up what has been the dry and technical nature of the hearings up to this point.

Sadly Go Faster Jim has given up and will write no more about cycling. He feels that the Landis reinvestigation and Ivan Basso have killed cycling, at least they have for him.

Dugard is amazed at the lack of knowledge about the chain of custody of the Landis samples at the LNDD, and the time gaps in their processing. He is feeling a heightened sense of righteous indignation.

Squircle feels that IF you won the Tour de France under the influence of PEDs you would know it was not an honest victory and you would have to live with that yourself.

The Sports Curmudgeon looks at the Landis hearing's "jury" and feels they are not qualified to hear the case, so no matter what the outcome don't expect closure from the case that "won't go away".

lij knows how focused an individual Floyd Landis can be and hopes that he can maintain that drive and focus thorughout the hearings. BTW thanks for reading.

CrystelZENmud notes that since, LNDD employee Cynthia Mongongu would deny knowing who leaked Landis results to L'Equipe so would her boss Jacques de Ceaurriz:

But is it likely that de Ceaurriz would NEVER ask this person, at the heart of the controversy, a member of a team, which is now apparently sinking like the Lusitania, if she knew who was the LEAKER?

It is likely, if de Ceaurriz knows who the leaker is. It is also likely, if de Ceaurriz supports the unrestrained leaking violations of WADA CODE within his agency.

VeloGal isn't amazed at trhe selective memory of Cynthia Mongongu, after all the lady is protecting her place of work and her job:

Is anybody surprised about the selective memory of Cynthia Mongongu in the Floyd Landis hearing? The lab technician for the Cesspool at Chatenay-Malabry seems to clearly remember the facts from a well-rehearsed script, but suffers from very poor memory at convenient times, about the same topic, when questions are directed toward finding what really happened. This recent intern-turned-expert knows damn well that she is going to get her fanny fired if she says the wrong thing - - anything that might get the Landis team toward the truth.

Rant warms us up for today's possible testimony by Greg LeMond in the Landis hearings by taking us back over some of the more salient points of yesterday's proceedings.

Steroid Nation mentions that today Greg LeMond will "star" at the "lumbering Landis hearings". He also uses some of TBV's reportage from yesterday's session, thanks for the major plug. And in interesting commentary at the end of the post SN reminds us that no matter what the outcome EVERYONE loses in this whole mess.

Pommi previews Day 4 of the Landis hearings, and wonders just what in the world Greg LeMond might contribute. He also wonders if the good cheer exhibited by Team Landis is just "gallows humor"? In an update Pommi notes that LNDD employee Claire Frelat admitted that in April she knew that she was testing Landis' "B" samples, and she wasn't even supposed to testify.

is conflicted by today's proposed testimony by childhood hero Greg LeMond. He is not sure who to root for as he is also a supporter of Floyd Landis, but he thinks that LeMond may very well "rant his head off".

OffWingOpinion has a pretty good idea of what Greg LeMond might say today at the Landis hearings, and it isn't good.


Over at DPF the "LeMond Will Show His True Colors" thread is getting a lot of attention.


Anonymous said...

I predict that the gist of Lemond's testimony, if indeed he does testify, will be that:

1. Everybody dopes

2. Hence Landis couldn't have won unless he doped

He might make reference to his recent allegations that the reason he quit cycling was that he, being clean, couldn't compete with the dirty dopers. However, if he does this, he leaves himself open to rebuttal due to the statements made at the time of his retirement the reason was his medical condition.

Mercx' possible testimony could be a partial rebuttal, to the effect that Landis' performance on stage 17 (and in general) was within his known abilities and the stage 17 result was as much due to the lack of pursuit by the leaders until to late.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall Floyd saying over on DPF a while back that he had some dirt on Lemond but was keeping it to himself. We may find out what he was hinting at if Lemond's testimony is too accusatory.

On another note, looking at the chart from Bonnie DiSimone, we see the "positive" tests mostly showing up on the hardest days of the tour. If Floyd was doping he apparently took T before the hard stages, not after. We've always been told that T is used as a recovery drug so this is very confusing to me.

What I see in the chart is "positive" tests on the hardest days - the days with the most physical and emotional stress, and when the athletes are eating enormous amounts of food, almost all of which is carbohydrates (i.e. from plant sources, and I assume your body makes hormones from what you eat). To me this calls out for further research on the hormone production and metabolism of world class endurance athletes in intensive training and competition. Research on UCLA med students doesn't cut it. If this research has already been done and I just missed when it was discussed over on DPF, then fine, I'm a moron and should just shut up. Maybe someone can provide a link to what I should have read months ago.

~ Cub

Anonymous said...

Are the alleged test results for all B samples anywhere? I would like to look at the ESPN timeline with the actual numbers.


Anonymous said...

First, thank you for excellent coverage. I'll be donating to FFF in your honor. Can anyone please comment on if perjury is even an applicable term in these hearings? Am I correct that there is no punishment for lying, only the chance of discrediting your case to the panel?

Anonymous said...

Is there any info on the cortizone he was taking during the tour? (dates?) I would like to see that layed out next to Bonnie's timeline as well. Just curious...

And like other TBV (et all) addicts... Thank You Very Much for your time, talent and effort.


strbuk said...

Thank you for reading Jason, you make the sore back and sore fingers worth it!!


bill hue said...

Anon 7:25

Although these are not court proceedings, falsely testifying under oath is a criminal offense in California.

bill hue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
randy said...

It's hard to get much work done these days-thanks for the fantastic coverage!

WRT the leaks from LNDD - who are the folks who have the key to sample numbers and the cyclists name? Is it de Cearuiz? Or is it UCI? Or the French anti-doping agency? Was the person with the key to identity the same for sample S17 and for the April analysis of the B samples from the cleared A? How many people have access to this most important piece of paper (or file...).

bill hue said...

UCI is the only entity that is supposed to have the athlete's medical waiver, which has his name and the corresponding sample number. The lab is not supposed to have that information. should a doping violation occur, the applicable ADA will receeve the "matching" information

Anonymous said...

Dear TVB and Bill: thanks for everything.

I just wanted to let everyone know that in a world where many are crying the end of cycling (see the Newsweek link above) here in Ontario Canada we can now purchase "Yellow Jersey" wine. Learn more at the link below. It seems that the maillot jeaune still holds some cache.

Once again thanks for all the hard work and dedication.

Anonymous said...

TBV- Thanks for the mention. I will still write about cycling because it is so much apart of my life. My blog entry today was an act of frustration. I fear Floyd will get screwed, although the adission that the tester knew she was testing Landis' samples is pretty damaging for USADA.