The Settlement — and More

by Rant on February 3, 2010 · 15 comments

in Alejandro Valverde,Floyd Landis,Greg LeMond,Stefan Schumacher,Trek Bicycles

I think I’m going to have to start posting more often, just to keep up with everything that’s been going on. Three weeks since my last post (give or take a day)? There’s almost too much to catch up on. But I’ll dig deep and give it the ol’ college try.

Trek v. LeMond: The Settlement

For sure, I thought that the Trek/LeMond saga was going to be one of those knock-down, drag-out grudge matches for the ages. But good sense seems to have prevailed, and the warring sides came to a settlement a couple of days ago. A whole passel of cycling news sites have the story, but it boils down to this:

  • Trek’s John Burke says nice things about Greg and wishes him well in his future endeavors
  • Greg says it’s nice to put this all behind him — and he gets the rights to his brand back
  • Trek ponies up a couple hundred large for Greg’s new organization for men who suffered child abuse
  • Greg gets to decide if/when (I’d bet more on when, assuming he can strike a manufacturing deal with one of the big manufacturers) he will resurrect his brand of road bikes
  • Trek no longer has to market GL’s bikes — and they don’t have to spend precious resources promoting yet another line of road bikes in their stable (Of course, the cynic in me would note that several other brands they’ve acquired have also gone the way of the dodo bird, so Greg is in good company there)
  • Greg — if he resurrects the brand — can put more marketing “oomph” into the line of bikes. Maybe they will even sell. (Hint: Offer a good steel frame, a Ti-bike, and a carbon-fiber bike, dude, and you’re all set. None of this half-carbon half-Ti stuff.)

Sounds like a win-win to me. For the moment, neither side is trashing the other publicly. And that’s probably a good thing, as far as it goes. The prospect of watching the 800-pound gorilla of American bike companies going mano-a-mano with the first American Tour winner was truly, terrifyingly ugly. I’m not much of a fan of either side, to tell the truth, and my next bike won’t come from either (unless one of them wants to sponsor a decidedly out of shape masters racer and drop a new road and TT bike on me for free). Still, neither side was entirely the saint in this case.

It’s good to see it done, although some folks are probably disappointed at not seeing a certain someone (not Greg) having to testify under oath and having to answer all sorts of pointed questions.

Floyd Landis sets Bahamian Record

Turns out one of our frequent subjects here on RYHO set a course record for the time trial at the Tour of the Bahamas, besting Dave (“Zman”) Zabriskie’s previous mark. As Landis told Neil Browne:

All that drinking is starting to pay off. I beat the course record set by Zman [David Zabriskie] two years ago and I was on somebody else’s road bike with clinchers and no aero clothes. Take that f@*#ers

Sounds like someone’s coming back into form — in more ways than one. Here’s to hoping Floyd lands a contract for the rest of the season. Rumor has it that Rock Racing may actually have gotten a Mexican license, even if they haven’t gotten a UCI Pro Continental license for the year. Don’t know whether or not that augurs good things for either the team or Landis. Given Rock Racing’s ever mercurial owner, Michael Ball, does even he know? We’ll see.

In the meantime, Neil Browne has the inside scoop on what Floyd’s been up to since the ToB in this exclusive interview.

Inside, Outside, All Around the Town

Turns out one of the mainstream media took a recent look at the anti-doping establishment with a bit of a jaundiced eye. Or maybe it’s more fair to say they were “fair and balanced.” Either way, Outside Magazine recently ran a story that takes an objective look at how the anti-doping game is played, and whether WADA and its affiliated agencies have gone overboard in their pursuit of dopers. Reader William Schart posted this link to the story back on January 25th. If you haven’t seen their article yet, take some time to give it a read. It’s nice to see at least one mainstream media outlet writing about the workings of WADAworld.

Stefan Schumacher Loses at the CAS

Whoa! I hear you saying. How on earth could that have happened? Schumacher, who allegedly turned up positive for the third-generation EPO known as CERA during the 2008 Tour de France and also at the Beijing Olympics, will wind up serving a two-year ban, as his effort to overturn the judgment against him by France’s anti-doping agency (AFLD) was denied. Schumacher did score a minor win, with the CAS panel resetting the start date for his suspension to August 28, 2008, instead of January 22, 2009. That means Schumacher — if he can get a contract — could once again be competing in the peloton just in time for the 2010 Vuelta a Espana (which coincidentally starts the same day Schumacher is eligible to race again).

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, meanwhile, might want to have his lawyers peruse the CAS panel’s findings. Schumacher, a German, was prosecuted by France’s AFLD. The normal flow would have been that the German cycling federation would have handled the case. This may be the first time that the CAS has upheld a prosecution by an agency outside of the athlete’s home country. If the Valverde panel looks to the Schumacher case for any precedent, Valverde will lose the argument over whether Italy’s CONI could bring anti-doping charges against him and implement a ban. And if that happens … surely WADA and the UCI will try to take Valverde’s ban worldside.

As Mike Straubel of Valparaiso University’s Sports Law program told me a couple of years ago, officially there is no such thing as precedence in CAS rulings. Practically speaking however, there is. And if a certain Spanish rider isn’t quaking in his cycling shoes at the thought of what the Schumacher ruling means, well, he should be.

There’s more to catch up on, but this seems like a good place to call it a night. Cheers, everyone.

Post to Twitter

{ 15 comments }

Thomas A. Fine February 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Neil Browne implied on the most recent Bicycle Radio show that Floyd would likely continue rocking the Rock kit (yes, I hate that use of “rocking”, but in this case it had to be done).

On the Trek/Lemond thing, some have been pointing out that a notable item that appears to be missing from the settlement is something that might stop Greg from making a nuisance out of himself with Lance, for example suing Lance with respect to Lemond’s brand.

tom

Rant February 4, 2010 at 6:50 am

Tom,

Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Floyd keeps racing in Rock kit. It will be interesting to see how much of a presence Rock Racing will be this year, and what races they — or at least the occasional team member — may appear in.

I forgot to mention that GL wasn’t prevented from making a complete nuisance of himself with this settlement. I wonder if there is a specific clause that requires him to stay quiet about Trek, but lets him speak out on anything (or anyone) else. There is that mysterious “thing” he’s required to stay quiet about — but what that “thing” is hadn’t been revealed the last time I checked.

atx February 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Rant, No mention of Tom Zirbel now that we have the B?

I’m sure you have something brewing..
I’m still torn on what I think about that one.. but reading his blog, some intersting things. He could have admitted to it and got a deal.. Which begs an interesting question. Based on what we’ve seen with FL and other athletes who don’t really have a chance if both come back negative.. even if you are 100% innocent, should you lie and proclaim guilt? You might get more public support.. a shorter sentence.. Would that compromise of personal ethics lead to doping?

Rant February 4, 2010 at 8:38 pm

atx,

No worries. I’ll be talking about Zirbel in a future post. Also about the ASO and the UCI deciding not to use AFLD for drug testing at the 2010 Tour. And probably a few other things, too.

You make an interesting point about what choices an athlete who’s accused of doping has. That’s a tough situation. Do you swallow your pride and admit to something you didn’t do, or do you proclaim your innocence knowing full well the system is going to come down on you like a ton of bricks? I’d hate to have to make such a choice, that’s for sure.

Jeff February 5, 2010 at 10:35 am

I think this is the first reprisal that is actually boldly proclaiming itself as a reprisal wrt Valverde:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/tour-of-murcia-bars-italian-teams

More than a pea shooter, but not a devastating bomb. None the less, it has started in earnest. Congratulations CAS, CoNI, UCI. Once again, well done…….

(I didn’t know which thread this comment should appear in, so I doubled up. Feel free to delete one or the other)

Rant February 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Jeff,

This is as good a place as any. I’m wondering what the heck that promoter is smoking. Heck, by Cyclingnews’ account, even the president of the Spanish cycling federation sounds puzzled. It makes for an interesting — quixotic, even — protest, but the guy he’s upset about won’t even be competing in the event. Makes me wonder: Is Murcia anywhere near where Cervantes set his novel Don Quixote?

William Schart February 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Seems to me that ASO & company opened the door for this when they banned certain teams which had been linked to possible PED violations in the past when those teams were nonetheless in good standing. Since in all likelihood, almost any rider of any repute could be linked a la 6 degrees to possible PED violations (i.e., rode for a team suspected of using, was buddies with a suspected using rider, turned in “too good a performance” at some time, etc.) the possibilities for some race organizer/national federation etc. to ban a rider, team, or even whole nation is endless. This guy is POed about how the Italians are treating Valverde, so no Italian teams in his race. So are the Italians going to ban Spaniards?

UCI didn’t have the cajones to put a stop to all this nonsense way back concerning the Paris-Nice. WADA seems to be allowing just about anyone to sanction (possible) PED violations despite the rule which says the rider’s home federation has jurisdiction. Somebody should tell this Spanish promoter “Either accept any team in good standing or we shut your race down completely. Try and run it anyway with UCI sanction and we suspend any rider involved.”

Jeff February 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I’m not fond of Ricco, but I’m less fond of the practice of race organizers blackballing teams that sign riders to compete for them after the rider has served a suspension. It’s all the more puzzling when Ricco’s suspension was reduced for some measure of cooperation. The practice is wrong and a disincentive to admit guilt, even when there is guilt to admit, and/or cooperate. YMMV.
http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/02/news/armstrong-si-ricco-no-for-milan-san-remo_104395

Jean C February 15, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Some news from LNDD hacking,

A French judge has issued an international arrest warrant for U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis and Arnie Baker in connection with a case of data hacking at a doping laboratory, France’s anti-doping chief said Monday.

Jeff February 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Here is a link:
http://sports.yahoo.com/sc/news?slug=ap-doping-landis&prov=ap&type=lgns

Floyd a computer hacker? Really? I think not. The French version of a witch hunt continues….. Embarrassing….

Jean C,
The Paris AP is reporting it as “a national arrest warrant”, not an international version. Visions of grandeur?

William Schart February 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I recall a while back there was some talk of this happening. I also seem to recall that the evidence put forth at that time was rather sparse. Of course, there may be evidence that has not been revealed. However, if they really did have the goods on Landis and Baker, why wait so long?

Since a national warrant only is valid on French soil, the only thing this accomplishes is to in effect bar Landis from competing or training in France. Of course, as the AP article says, they still could issue an international warrant, but would US authorities actually extradite L&B for this?

L&B would have had absolutely no incentive to hack LNDD’s system, since anything they might have thus discovered would not have been usable in either of the hearings.

Rant February 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Jeff,

Jean C was partly right. The first reports today referred to the arrest warrant as an international warrant. But M. Bordry appears to have misspoken, and it’s now being reported as a national warrant. So, in a sense, you’re both right.

William,

I have no clue why the authorities waited so long. This has been going on, in one fashion or another, since about a year ago. So why announce the warrant, more than two weeks after it was issued? Beats me. As far as extradition goes, I don’t know if the US would do so. France refused to extradite Roman Polanski. Polankski might wind up back in the US to face charges, but it will be because Switzerland allowed the extradition (if it happens), not France. Makes me think there’s no extradition treaty between the US and France, but I could be wrong.

Jean C February 16, 2010 at 6:06 am

Bordry did a lapsus because the first step is a national warrant that can be changed in an international warrant easily. Because the evidences gathered by police are more damaging for Arnie Baker, I suppose that only him could be internationaly warranted. I do think that Landis is more seen as an accomplice even if we can believe that he was the first that could have benefited of the hacking. But who was the commissionner?

William,
Landis’ team had an interest to discredit LNDD. Isn’t it Will Goohegghan (never remeber how to write it) who had written on a forum something like every Landis opponent would be a target to destroy.
Bordry said that Landis had used stolen documents in his defense.

Landis, 34 ans, a déjà purgé une suspension de deux ans même s’il a constamment démenti tout dopage. Le Tribunal arbitral du sport (TAS) lui a donné tort quand il a affirmé devant cette instance que son contrôle positif était dû à une erreur de procédure de la part du laboratoire français. “Il semble qu’il ait tout fait pour pénétrer dans le système informatique pour essayer de démontrer que le laboratoire se trompait souvent et qu’il s’était trompé dans son cas”, poursuit Pierre Bordry. “Il a donc présenté des documents piratés dans différentes instances.”

Le président de l’AFLD, qui a accès aux documents de justice après son dépôt de plainte, s’est dit étonné par l’ampleur du réseau de pirates mobilisés pour pénétrer dans le système informatique du laboratoire. “Il aurait organisé toute une chaîne de gens que le juge a remontée au long de l’instruction qui démontre qu’il y a vraiment eu piratage. Quand on a affaire à des sportifs de haut niveau qui utilisent ce type de procédés, ce n’est pas une bonne nouvelle.” Et Landis, qui déclarait il y a encore quelques mois qu’il espérait revenir un jour sur le Tour de France, risque bien cette fois-ci d’avoir définitivement ruiné sa carrière, après s’être ruiné tout court en frais judiciaires.

William Schart February 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

If the USADA team at the hearings suspected that the defense was using illegally obtained documents as evidence, they certainly could have challenged them. Of course, suspecting a given document was illegally obtained and proving it are 2 different things. And I am not sure what the legal status would be if a third party totally independent of the Landis team had obtained documents illegally, then sent them to the Landis lawyers.

Is would be possible for Landis to win some points in the court of public opinion by revealing documents from LNDD which disclose problems; but then he might also lose points if he obtained those documents illegally. And I suppose it would be possible to use illegally obtained information internally, to narrow down possible directions to go in the defense. But neither of these possibilities seems to me to be worth it, at least to me. What Will G spouted on a forum may or may not represent what Landis and/or his lawyers thought. And any statement about “we will destroy you” in and of itself does not indicate anything about any illegal behavior; indeed it could have simply been an over-the-top statement that he felt they would prevail at the hearing. I don’t know about things in France, but over here in the US, such statements are not all that uncommon in a variety of situations, and usually mean little.

Rant February 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm

You know, while those documents were definitely used in the court of public opinion, I’m not sure they were used at the Malibu hearing or the CAS hearing. If they were, chances are they were disregarded, just as certain evidence from the USADA side was disregarded — because it didn’t have any direct bearing on the issue being adjudicated, the Stage 17 sample, itself.

Previous post:

Next post: