I spend a little time on this blog discussing professional cycling. I love the athleticism that is required to ride at the pro level and the amount of work those riders put into their craft. There is a little bit of luck involved in pro cycling, but for the most part it comes down to who has the best genetics, work ethic, and training program. Then there is the great equalizer, banned substances.
Drugs, performance enhancing substances, cheating, EPO, doping — call it what you want. The rules in place currently do not allow for riders to use any substance that has been determined to give them an unfair advantage. I think the rules of the peloton are different. If you pay attention to pro cycling at all, you know that there are always riders who are getting caught for using techniques (blood doping) or substances (EPO or HGH) that are banned. If you follow Track & Field or triathlon, there are cheaters in those sports as well. For this discussion we will just focus on cycling.
I was a fan of Floyd Landis. When he won the Tour de France in 2006 I thought that it was about time a blue collar rider finally won the thing. His back story was compelling and he seemed like he had the work ethic of 10 men. But then the bottom fell out of his world. His samples came back with a T/E ratio of 11:1 where the normal mortal usually has a ratio of 4:1. Obviously, there were issues there.
When he mounted his defense, he blamed everything from Jack Daniels to the way that the French Lab LNDD (that is accredited by WADA) handled his samples. He wrote a book with the help of Loren Mooney call Positively False to demonstrate his innocence. He started a fund called the Floyd Fairness Fund where he raised over $1.0 M from every day people for his defense.
Then came the bombshell in May 2010 that he actually doped. He came forward and accused lots of other riders that he rode with of doing just the same, including Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Liepheimer, and Dave Zabriskie. I am not defender of any of these riders and I think you have to be either silly or stupid to think that there is no doping in pro cycling. Like I mentioned, I feel that doping and getting whatever advantage you can out of your body is the culture within the peloton. With so many dollars at stake in sponsorship money, you know riders and team directors are looking for advantages anywhere they can.
But these four riders have all denied they have taken banned substances or used illegal methods. Without a smoking gun, it is tough to believe anything else. But I give Landis credit, I didn’t think he had anything to gain out of coming forward and pointing his finger at so many riders.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Landis has filed a Federal Whistle Blower lawsuit where he will be entitled to 30% of any proceeds from litigation (read their short article here). He, in effect, has sued the former US Postal Service Team on behalf of the US Government, who will now take over the lawsuit. Depending on how you interpret his motives, he is either a. motivated to make up additional lies or b. motivated to expose the truth. I like to think his motives are pure, but I don’t think they are.
More than likely, the former US Postal Service Team will want to avoid putting former members on the stand it will become and he said/he said situation. As a result, they will more than likely (I think with 100% probability) settle on this before it even goes to depositions. That means there will be a financial settlement, of which Landis is entitled 30%. Are his motives pure? After reading Positively False and believing him and even giving money to the Floyd Fairness Fund, I don’t believe they are. Before he filed this lawsuit at least he could hang his hat on “I have nothing to gain out of coming forward.”
Now, Floyd doesn’t even have that. He is an admitted liar and now has financial motivation. He had credibility with be before, even after admitting to be a liar. Now, anything that comes out of his mouth is tainted with the blood money that will be coming out of his newly filed lawsuit.