Monday, July 23, 2007

Snarking from France

This morning's Le Monde on-line brings the following long snark from Floyd Landis' former manager, John Lelangue:

A year ago, American Floyd Landis took the Grand Boucle
by François Thomazeau,
Le Monde, July 24, 2007

It's an anniversary the Tour could have done without. A year ago, July 23, 2006, Floyd Landis took the Grand Boucle. Five days later, the announcement of the American's positive test for testosterone struck cycling a new blow. Today, the rider no longer appears among the list of Tour winners, but still has not been convicted. An American arbitration court should report its decision in the near future. Floyd Landis faces a two-year suspension.

His former manager on the Phonak team, John Lelangue, has returned to the race as a consultant for Belgian TV "so as not to remain negative." While he claims that page is turned, he looks back at the episode with passion. "Of course I believe Floyd is guilty, given the evidence I have like everyone else," he explains. "If one day Floyd wants to speak out and wants to call me, let him go ahead and do it. I would rather he confided in me than the press."

Graduate of the HEC [a Swiss school for advanced business studies] and the son of a former teammate and manager for Eddy Merckx, John Lelangue claims to bear no personal grudge against the American. "People have reported that I was personally disappointed. That's not the case. I was disappointed that one man's decision had such serious consequences for the Tour, for the entire Phonak family--which was destroyed--and for all the riders who sacrificed themselves for him."

Not so bad

For all that, John Lelangue has not lost his passion for a sport which certainly hasn't spared him, since he was Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc's right-hand man at the time of the Festina case in 1998. "I have never been disgusted since my conscience is clear. I have even thrown out riders like Botero and Guttierez, whose test results were suspicious. But I spent more than 100 days of racing with Floyd, and there wasn't the slightest warning sign."

Conscious that the general public finds it hard to believe that a manager could be ignorant that one of his riders is doping, he insists that no team can protect itself from every individual case. "You see it this year with Patrik Sinkewitz, who belongs to what is supposedly the cleanest team," he says, before noting slyly that the announcement of the German's test took six weeks, instead of the five days for Floyd Landis'. "I guess we should conclude that the lab at Châtenay-Malabry isnt so bad."

Jack Lelangue has not read the book Floyd Landis wrote about the case. "Maybe I will take it on vacation and read it if I have the time."