Thursday, May 24, 2007

French Press: Morning coffee and news from Paris, Thursday

Only an Agence France Presse story this morning, which appeared in L'Equipe online. I expect the big wrap-ups will be posted for tomorrow's editions.

Hearings concluded

After nine days of hearings, here are the final arguments of the two sides. First, from the lawyers for the American Antidoping Agency (USADA), then, those from Floyd Landis' lawyers, who concluded the American rider's hearings in front of the independent American Arbitration court (AAA). We must now wait several weeks to know the verdict.

Richard Young, for the USADA, first tried again to prove Landis' culpability, to justify the two years' suspension requested by the disciplinary authorities in charge of the fight against doping. His manner was pointed: "The science is solid. Mr. Landis had traces of exogenous testosterone is his specimens from the 17th stage. He cheated, and he was caught." The American lawyer then defended once again the work of the French laboratory which conducted the famous positive tests: "The technicians of the LNDD have been called incompetent, on the one hand, and evil geniuses, on the other. What Landis is trying to make us believe is that they were both at the same time. The panel has the opportunity to judge their credibility. They did their work with pride. They are not people who have anything to hide."

Young then did not pass up recalling the Landis clan's slips during the trial, notably the incident involving Will Geoghegan, friend and representative of Landis, who threatened Greg LeMond several hours before the latter's testimony. Landis' cross-examination regarding this matter, one recalls, was not particulaly shrewd, calling LeMond's credibility into question. It remains to be seen what importance this affair within the affair--far removed from the technical case--will take on in the judges' deliberations.

Young's adversary, Maurice Suh, for his part, put together a brilliant argument to demonstrate his client's innocence, focussing especially on the technical side of the case. During his closing argument, Landis' attorney was insistent about the handling, identification, and analytic errors made by the LNDD, and he repeated the testimony of all the witnesses called by the Landis camp, who had denounced the lack of diligence of the French laboratory. Some of these witnesses had even explicitly called Landis' positive test into question, explaining that such sloppy work could not serve as the basis for "suspending an athlete two years."

Suh ended in a grandiloquent and theatrical manner, emphasizing the points that will probably be important to the arbitrators: "This case should never have been taken this far. But it was. And now it should stop." The question the judges will have to answer is whether the errors and omissions of which the LNDD is accused did or did not play a role in their analyses--in effect, a way of establishing whether Floyd Landis did or did not dope during the 2006 Grande Boucle.



To the expectation that it will be several weeks before we know the verdict, Sport24 added:

The greatest likelihood is that the loser will appeal to the Sports Arbitration Tribunal (CAS).

12 comments:

pem said...

TVB:

Win or lose, Landis owes you big time. This blog was the train that never stopped. Where else could people go on the Internet to catch up on the proceedings? How many times did the live feed have too many connections? All the news websites barely scratch the surface in their reports, and there is disappointment on how few there were to find. DPF had crashed a number of times, and when available, the discussions have become more and more unpleasant to read.

Landis must have learned a lot from Hamilton’s choice of not making his case public. Hamilton is forever negatively connected with the "vanishing twin" defence, even though I read somewhere it was a theory blown out of proportion, and was not the focus of his defence. Had Landis kept his case private, he would be forever connected with the “Jack Daniel’s” defence.

Finally, as I had given Landis the benefit of the doubt, I am also hopeful the arbitration panel is professional enough to present a decision they can defend. This blog, with its detailed reporting (especially Mr. Hue’s observations during the hearing) may just be enough to keep the arbiters in line, knowing that many have kept themselves informed, and their decision will be scrutinised.

TVB and crew, I thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Still no one here seems to recognize how polluted the sport of cycling is.

Anonymous said...

cycling is polluted by doping; Landis is a cyclist accused of doping; ergo, defense of Landis is a denial of the first assertion. Interesting logic there, anonymous 4:42.

--TF

Anonymous said...

Like I wrote and I'll cut and paste:

As it stands now, Landis is out of the picture. Because of what is now exposed as an obvious sham, the arbitrators are now on trial with the arbitrators to pass judgement upon themselves.

12String said...

yes, it does seem that cycling is polluted by doping.
Getting rid of LNDD would be a good first step in cleaning it up.
Opening up WADA to checks and balances would be a good second step.

The system has to BE fair, and it has to be seen as fair.

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

L'Equipe: "Maurice Suh, for his part, put together a brilliant argument to demonstrate his client's innocence, focussing especially on the technical side of the case."

WOW! That came from L'Equipe? Amazing, simply amazing.

Re: comments about doping in cycling. As 12String said and others have said, yes cycling is polluted by doping, but this can not be resolved by a broken anti-doping system. In order to clean up sports, there must be a robust system of checks and balances that ensure innocent athletes do not get swept up in the efforts to catch drug cheats. One must also remember that drug testing labs like LNDD do more than just run drug tests for athletes. They also due testing on normal people whose livelihoods and reputation depend upon accurate results.

Anonymous said...

Hey Troll, once and for all, YES, Cycling has lots of doping! How many times do you have to say that? Good effing GRIEF. And you want nothing more than to believe that anyone who wants the Landis side to win ONLY wants that because they are positive he was clean. HELLO, MANY of us MAINLY just want reliable testing for ALL athletes in all sports, Olympic and otherwise. This case is mostly about that. If Landis is a drug cheat, he'll get caught some other time, don't worry. But maybe this case can help change the system that bans clean cyclists two years for using the wrong toothpaste before a race. It's just about that bad at this point.

With all the money (how MUCH money I have no idea) but with all the WADA money out there, do you THINK maybe, just MAYBE their chosen lab could buy an up-to-date testing machine and software? Something POSSIBLY created after the 80's? I know that's asking a lot. But Olympic and Tour de France athletes are worth it, I would think. And it's a lot cheaper than having to go through these legal hoops from now on, every time an athlete is accused.

Camille

Georgian said...

Interesting change of tone. The Tour de France and the French have a bigger problem than who will wear the last year's winner jersey at the start of this year's tour. How can they stick with a lab that has been so thoroughly impeached? Who can say now with a straight face that the French Tennis Open's change of labs to Montreal was because of economics? I don't know the personalities involved and how the different organizations are interlocked, but somehow the TdeF needs to throw LNDD under the bus in the next week or two, signaling the arbitration panel that it is all right for them to expeditiously do that too. I don't know if French pride will permit such an approach, but a permanent loss in prestige in in store for the Tour if decisive attention is not taken.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If (as seems to be the case) the present system catches up innocent athletes, or athletes whose violations are minor, and slaps a heavy penalty on all with little chance of vindication (or at least a reasoned, appropriate penalty, considering the nature and extent of the violation), athletes may well figure "why not dope, I may get suspended even if I'm clean, might as well have a go at getting some results". This is especially if there is a perception (a la Papp) that there are dopiing strategies with minimum risk of detection.

We need something where all will know if you're clean, you have no worries, if you inadvertantly use the wrong toothpaste or whatever, you may get a minor penalty (warning, maybe), but if you really dope, you will be penalized accordingly.

Jim T said...
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Anonymous said...
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