Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Roundup

The Boulder Report covers some new ground in interviews with some of the parties involved in this week's Landis developments. The case gets stranger and stranger as it goes on, but it does seem that it is creating new benchmarks in the athlete vs anti-doping agency process. From Maurice Suh, one of the Landis lawyers:

In a telephone interview with Suh earlier this week, he outlined to me some of the possible plans, which may include a request for summary judgment. Simply put – while the arbitration panel has no power to compel USADA or LNDD to follow its rules in France, they also are under no obligation to admit the evidence in question and, says Suh, either at the arbitration level or the civil court level, Landis could ask for a case dismissal.

“There is a longstanding line of cases that talk about, in essence, a kind of prosecutorial misconduct in connection with handling the case,” Suh said. “Under U.S. law, that can result in a dismissal of the case as well as sanctions. We’re operating under a different legal framework here [in the arbitration process] but there are a lot of analogies.”

To Suh, the LNDD incident offers an excellent opportunity to introduce a laundry list of sorts of actions they contend are egregious conduct on USADA’s part. “There is a long line of pieces of conduct, including the discovery request, which constitute abuse of process, and a lot of other pieces of conduct relating to false statements made to us in the course of investigation,” he said, declining to offer specific examples of false statements.

The discovery request represented a new wrinkle in the case and a much harder edge to USADA’s prosecution of it. In a four-page letter sent to Suh on April 3, USADA – through an outside law firm – requested a variety of information from Landis, including the identity of donors who contributed $250 or more to the Floyd Fairness Fund, the usernames Floyd has used in posting on instant message boards or online forums (and the content of all such posts) and copies of all documents sent by anyone associated with Floyd to government officials to instigate investigations or USADA.

That request, from Matthew Barnett of the law firm of Holmes, Roberts and Owens, was for most observers the latest indication that the Landis case is ever-widening. One example: to my knowledge, USADA has never retained outside counsel to help adjudicate an anti-doping case.

To use a poker analogy, both sides have consistently upped the ante on their bets. Early on, either Floyd could have admitted guilt or USADA could have dismissed the case for lack of evidence. That’s no longer an option for either side now – each one is all-in and, in order to survive to the next hand, one of them must be pushed off the table.

The Boulder Report's Joe Lindsey concludes that even as cycling needs cleaning up, the athletes involved deserve to have their civil rights acknowledged, and the way forward is now even less clear than it was before.

The Journal News writes about hip resurfacing in what is thus far starting out as a blessedly quiet day on the Floyd Landis front. It is seen as a great solution for younger patiences with flexibility and bone strength, and Landis was a perfect candidate for the Smith and Nephew device.

BBC Sport publishes a piece on the delight Bradley Wiggins is taking in the suspension of Ivan Basso from Discovery. He also comments briefly on Floyd Landis:

"But I don't think we will ever learn the full story about what happened last year with Operacion Puerto and Floyd Landis (the Tour winner who subsequently failed a doping test). Every time something comes up they get a good lawyer and it gets dragged through the courts for years.

In another of the Matt Slater articles, Wiggins has even more to say about Floyd Landis and his spectacular ride in Stage 17 of last year's Tour de France:

“Landis had lost 10 minutes the day before but he took nearly six mountains out of the other leaders on that last climb. I finished 52 minutes behind him. It was not a human effort.

“And what is often forgotten is that some riders didn’t make the time cut that day, only three days before the finish in Paris. That is messing with people’s livelihoods because next year’s contract could depend on that.

It is small wonder then that Wiggins is confident he speaks for the majority of cyclists – who are almost certainly clean – when he says he has little sympathy for the likes of Basso, Landis and Ullrich.

Mr Wiggins seems to have forgetten that Floyd Landis has lost his livelihood while a majority of the riders who didn't make the time on that stage are still riding. But the goods news is that some of the "cheats" Wiggins has met turned out to be among the nicest people in the peloton. That should make everyone feel much better.

The Cycling News print two letters today criticizing Floyd Landis for everything from being too hard on the LNDD for its profesional work ethic, to fundraising practices for the FFF.
Our letter reminding them "several" is not "seven" was politely received and replied to via email, admitting "it's very important to make such a distinction," but not published. So it goes.

WGAL from Floyd Landis' hometown Lancaster , PA picks up the bankruptcy story with this added quote which was not in the original:

"If it continues at this rate for a few more months, yes, it (bankruptcy) will happen. It's costing me time and emotional energy -- all of my time away from my family dealing with this," Landis said.

The Union Sentinel must have just gotten around to posting on line a story from last week's Tour of Georgia telling us that Floyd Landis gave some cachet to Stage 5 when he became an impromptu announcer.


We show the "whistleblower" / "hacker' documents
for the first time, and discover CYA.

Later, we consider USADA options about dropping the case. This introduces new contributor John Gilliland, USAF, a Judge Advocate (prosecutor). It may seem a fanciful topic, but might be a politically astute move.

Rant talks about the above noted "Whistle Blower Docs" and emphasizes among many pertinent things, one conclusion that may have a great deal of importance:

Of course, the problem in the Floyd Landis case is that LNDD’s famed leaker spilled the beans on the lab’s findings within days of Floyd’s Tour victory, which — if a mistake had been made — left it impossible for LNDD to issue one of their “So sorry, we made an error. Would you kindly destroy the evidence of our incompetence?”

It reminds one of the great Laurel and Hardy line: "Well Stanley, that's another fine mess you've gotten us into". Rant also shares our concerns that Bradley Wiggins has missed a vital point in all of his criticism, and that is what if Floyd Landis is telling the truth?

Dugard writes:
USADA should feel proud of themselves for grinding every last bit of money out of Floyd Landis for having the temerity to stand up and demand due process

Bankruptcy Lawyers of San Antonio blog about the admission by Floyd Landis this week that he may have to seek relief from financial troubles in the form of a bankruptcy declaration. Perhaps they know a lawyer who can handle his case if need be?

Information Cul-de-Sac comes to the rescue, and contemplates some of the complications of a bankruptcy, especially if Landis ends up winning. His TdF payoff, traditionally paid to the team, might end up in the hands of the creditors instead, with Landis owing the IRS to boot. Earlier, he'd sent a letter to his Congressman.

Chubbyandnot references a comic sports cartoon on the topic of the LNDD and conspiracies against Floyd Landis, but no link? But chubby does feels badly that Floyd can't compete this year.

Freedestqw starts off telling us about Floyd Landis' newly leaked test results, but then well, just stops.

Proleptic Life looks at developments and scratches head, thinking he may not be given a fair chance. (n.b., "proleptic" defined - it ain't in my vocabulary)

Le Grimpeur talks cycling, watts, kg, and Hincapie, Peirero, Armstrong and Landis climbing in the 2005 and 2006 Tours. Maybe George lost too much weight in '06, and didn't keep the w/kg he had in '05; he might still have had a hard time keeping up with Landis.

Thought for the Day

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations... can never effect a reform.
-susan b. anthony-


Anonymous said...

Seems to me that a type of "McCarthyism" has re-emerged in professional sports in the form of anti-doping?

In ethics and law, "let the punishment fit the crime", is the principle that the severity of penalty for a misdeed or wrongdoing should be reasonable and proportional to the severity of the infraction.

The alternative to this principle is to make the punishment "too severe" for reasons of vengeance, retribution, deterrence, or problem elimination.

If Landis is found innocent then USADA should pay his defense costs, just like Turnbull was by the ISC.

"A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves."
- Edward R. Murrow


Anonymous said...

I was there at the top of Brass Town Bald to see and hear Floyd warmly received by the tifosi. More and more, I think Americans are starting to perceive that Floyd is being judicially railroaded.

Moreover, when talking to well educated fellow cycling fans at the top of the Bald, people I had never met before in my life, I a feeling that that they perceived that the authorities were engaging in an overzealous prosecution of Floyd and that Floyd is more likely than not an innocent victim of an otherwise good drugs clampdown.

Anonymous said...

TBV: Are you channeling Mr. Vonnegut today? You're using his signature line quite bit . . .

"New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become." -KV

DBrower said...

I guess so -- it seemed appropriate in context, too. I'm also thinking that the USADA/WADA results management protocol is the Ice-Nine of legal systems.


Anonymous said...

Wiggins could have showed more class by reserving his comments for at least a few more weeks. Each time he is critical of rides not proven to have doped, he seems more and more a tool.
Jeff from Newark, DE