Sunday, May 20, 2007

French Press: Morning coffee and news from Paris, Sunday

Slow news day. The only story, really, is from Agence France Presse (below). It appears in L'Equipe, Eurosport, TF1, France2, dressed up here and there with different circumstantial details, but the same story almost word-for-word. And always with the same headline.

Landis continues denials

Much expectation for Saturday's hearing when Floyd Landis would appear before the independent American Arbitration Court [
sic]. For the first time, the American gave his own explanation officially in court. This did not change his version of the facts, and the 2006 Tour winner once again denied having doped.

When his lawyer, Howard Jacobs, asked him if he had doped during his career and, especially, during the 17th stage, the day on which his doping test showed a positive for testosterone, he replied firmly, "No." And at each restatement by his side show to get at this fact, he repeated the same thing. ("Did you take a doping product that night? Did you take testosterone during the Tour de France? Did you take doping products when you were with Phonak?")

For his first official declarations in a court, Landis initially chose to lay out a long presentation of his career. Then, for an hour and 15 minutes, he gave his story on various subjects, especially his relations with Greg LeMond, who had asked him on several occasions to confess for "the good of the sport." And so, Landis confirmed having called LeMond August 6, and having told him he had never doped and he therefore saw no reason to confess. On the other hand, Landis confessed that his former representative, Will Geoghegan (fired on Thursday), had indeed threatened LeMond just before his testimony. LeMond revealed Thursday that he had received an anonymous call, later attributed to Geoghegan, with statements meant to intimidate him in regard to the sexual abuse of which he had been a victim in his youth and which he had previously revealed to Landis.

Landis recounted: "I was in the hotel room, seated at the other end of the table, when Will called. But I didn't hear anything. Later, I heard Will's telephone. I heard that it was Greg LeMond. With that, I knew there was a problem. I then decided to speak to Will. He seemed very disturbed and told me he had done something stupid and did not know what to do."

The defense questioning naturally did not pose any dangers to the American, who may well have to be more forthcoming Monday, during cross-examination by the lawyers of the American Anti-doping Agency (USADA). Meanwhile, several scientific experts expressed their support for their French counterparts at the laboratory at Châtenay-Malabry, who had conducted the tests at issue. German Wilhelm Schänzer, director of the anti-doping laboratory at Cologne, was clear, to say the least: "The data are excellent and show testosterone clearly. I, too, would have reported a positive in this case." As for American Don Catlin, who recently left the same position at the California laboratory in Los Angeles: "With such results, I would write to a client, in this case the USADA, to say that the test was positive according to the criteria of the World anti-doping agency (WADA)."

Exploiting the smallest opening, Landis' lawyers, hearing "according to WADA criteria," got [Catlin] to say that according to other criteria--and especially those he himself had in place--the results could have been negative.


Anonymous said...

It will forever boggle my mind that Floyd Landis would not choose to use testosterone because it would not help but would choose to drink Whiskey the night before that stage. Whiskey would not help you either. Show me how your ratio was 11:1 and I will believe you. Was it the lab? Prove it. Then you are clean. Did you take something accidently? Okay, you lose your results from that race (as did a Canadian Rower at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for accidently taking the wrong Claritin. Her results were erased but no suspension handed down.). What was it? What happened? Ben Johnson, for the record, is a nice guy. So that defense is not good enough. Ben, by the way, had the smartest doping minds in the world working for him. He got busted at a ratio that was something similar to Landis'. There is no question that he used steroids but he never should have tested positive on that day. He also never tested positive before that either. Just like Landis, it was his first positive test. How can an athlete benefit from only using once? Because it was only the first time he got caught.