Thursday, August 31, 2006

Where are the numbers?

There's a lot of confusion about The Numbers. We've heard Jacobs say that he hasn't got the formal reports yet, probably because of long European summer vacations. We know something was delivered, leading to verbal confirmations of the 11:1 ratio and 3.99 CIR value. These reports were solid enough for Phonak to fire Landis when they turned up.

It is suggested that Landis is hiding the values. Maybe it's a tactical decision, awaiting the formal A/B sample packs, maybe he's trying to hide how bad they are, and maybe the attorneys aren't tuned into the PR game and are erring on the side of discretion.

Some say Landis has gone dark while trying to work out some deal with the USADA, and will only release things if that falls through. This assumes he is guilty, or that he has enough doubt in the process that a deal is better than the pain and expense of a defense.

It seems to me that if he is innocent, and is going to go to a full out defense, then he ought to release everything he he is allowed to in it's entirety. I won't say he should do it immediately, because it may take some time so set up a mechanism that works reasonably. Still, by the time the formal A/B packs show up, something ought to be in place.

Releasing documents is a part of the PR effort, not related to the legal machinations. It demonstrates good will and good faith with the public that is the target of the image rehabilitation. It is hard to see what procedural harm can result from releasing documents already in the possession of the ADA, UCI and WADA, including the initial AAF report. Hiding them or doing only partial disclosure leaves the impression there is something being hidden. As put by a detractor in one discussion,

My friend, rest assured that any documents Landis releases will be selective and self-serving.
Now, there was the quick rejoinder (not me, honest):
Rest assured also that any documents released at anytime by the doping bureacracy will be equally selective and self-serving.
But that is something Landis has no control over. His moral weapon is to say, "look, I'm showing my cards, why are these guys hiding theirs?"

The PR goal is convincing Joe Average that Floyd isn't a doper, and the whole thing is a terrible mistake. Appearing to be Mr. Squirming Evasive Secretive Accused Dope Fiend doesn't jive with that goal, so it needs to be avoided.

I can't possibly know if he's guilty or innocent with the data before me. I know him only by reputation and a whoosh by on a hill a lot faster than I can ride. I really hope he's clean, but hopes like this have been crushed often enough in athletics it would be naive to deny the other possibility. If he is guilty, getting it over with quickly is a good idea. If he's clean and he can afford it, he should be consistent with his eloquent open letter to Phonak and put on the best defense he can to prove it. I'll cheer the effort. The demand for an open hearing was a good step that direction. Being open with the documents will be another.

[updated 20:30]