The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

by Rant on June 17, 2008 · 17 comments

in Floyd Landis

Twenty three months, give or take. That’s how long it’s been since the accusations against Floyd Landis first blew up in the media. Twenty three months, and still no final resolution. In just a short while (as I write this), it will be two months since lawyers for Landis and for USADA were supposed to file their final arguments or proposed findings of fact, following the CAS hearings held in New York City during the month of March.

As far as I know, there’s been no word yet when the Landis decision will be announced. The CAS hasn’t sent out any press releases (yet) announcing when their announcement will be made. In the Gatlin case and others, they have been diligent about letting the media know when a ruling would occur.

Eventually, we will find out what the three panel members have to say. Will they uphold the original panel’s decision, or will they overturn it? Or, will they find a novel way of crafting a decision from which both sides can declare victory? No one knows — perhaps not even the three members of the CAS panel.

Meanwhile, the 2008 Tour de France will be starting in two and a half weeks. Will the Landis decision come before then? Will he finally know his fate? Hard to say. Were I a betting man, I’d be inclined to bet against any ruling coming out before the Tour begins. I hope, however, that I’m wrong.

Somewhere out there, Floyd Landis finds time to ride a bike, and to compete in the NUE series. Although, apparently he didn’t make it to the Lumberjack 100 in Michigan this past weekend. Given the flooding and rains in this part of the country, I wouldn’t blame him for staying away. Perhaps, some have suggested, he injured his hip (which one?) in a crash at the Mohican 100 a couple of weeks ago. I hope not, because that’s probably about the last thing he needs — another injured hip.

Things are quiet on the Landis-watch. Too quiet.

Wherever he is, and whatever he’s doing, I hope Floyd Landis is getting some good rides in, and that he’s able to keep his mind off the interminable wait. The waiting is, as Tom Petty once said, the hardest part.

Twenty three months is too long. How much longer will it go?

Post to Twitter

DFrey June 18, 2008 at 9:34 am

My heart goes out to Floyd. I wouldn’t blame him if he never raced again, would you? I think he, AFTER TWO YEARS, has about given up hope, and that is why he’s not doing well/not showing at races. That’s OK, Floyd. You gotta get on with your life. I, and many others, believe in you. You deserve the 2006 Tour de France crown, but maybe will never be vindicated. Time to move on? All the best regardless of what you decide.

Rubber Side Down June 18, 2008 at 9:56 am

What’s the lesson here? What’s the message to accused athletes who face the mediation and challenge process to clear their name of bogus test results? Seems to me, Floyd could have saved $2million by just taking the two year suspension, while losing the 2006 TdF prize money.

If he is vindicated, he’s probably out the $2mill and still does not get the prize money from ASO.

Bottom line is the fat cats who run WADA and their labs, sit atop a corrupt and inept system and the athletes continue to take it in the shorts because they love to compete.

How many inept tests will result in gold medal athletes being castigated in the Olympics in August?

RSD

Rant June 18, 2008 at 10:23 am

DFrey,
I don’t know if he has or not, but after such a long wait it certainly would be easy for Floyd to give up all hope. On the other hand, there’s Jeff Adams, who suffered through a similarly long wait to be vindicated and is working hard to make the Canadian Paralympic team. Whatever the result is, waiting two years, more or less, is wrong. Floyd certainly deserves all the best, regardless of whatever the CAS decision will ultimately be.
RSD,
Seems to me the lesson here is “shut up and take the suspension, because we’ll bleed you dry if you don’t.” To bring up Jeff’s name a second time, his defense was also bloody expensive. Average, everyday folks would never have the economic muscle to clear their names. If Floyd is ultimately vindicated, the cost will be high — both in financial terms and other terms (how could such an ordeal not take a huge personal toll, after all). And, as you point out, the anti-doping system is a long, long way from fair. Beijing will certainly provide more grist for the anti-doping mill.

eightzero June 18, 2008 at 12:16 pm

I am unsure the CAS arbitrators understand how important this case is to persons other than the litigants. There is a valid argument that a finding for Floyd actually enhances the anti-doping movement in cycling (and perhaps in other sports as well) by putting the anti-doping organizations and the associated labs on notice that their work must be meticulous and hold up to the light of day. Scientific evidence must be scrupulously examined, and that which does not survive such scrutiny must be discarded. This is how *better* testing, both as to the underlying science and to procedures, is developed.

Did Floyd “do it?” I don’t care. What matters most to me is that it wasn’t proven. I beleive him when he said he didn’t, because I can see no credible evidence to the contrary. But as Lt. Caffey said in _A Few Good Men_, “It doesn’t matter what I believe, it only matters what I can prove.”

Looking forward to reading Rant’s book!

William Schart June 18, 2008 at 2:39 pm

8-0:

While on one hand I tend to agree with you, I do have some concerns about deciding the outcome of this or any case on other than the evidence presented. Those on the other side of the Landis affair may have a case that a pro-Landis decision could undermine anti-doping efforts. However, I think, if the evidence as presented does not support a guilty verdict, he should be cleared; or if the evidence does support the original verdict, it should remain and whichever way the outcome goes, let the chips fall where they may.

Of course, once the decision is reached, there is no reason why the panel cannot editorialize in their opinion.

Michael June 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Whatever the decision by CAS, WADA loses, Floyd has lost, the Tour has lost, and the UCI is in a shambles. Some might claim that this devastation has been caused by Floyd’s scorched earth defense policy (what other method was left to him?). I would contend that it is actually caused by the corrupt WADA system and the poor PR decisions made by ASO.
Would the USADA have pursued this case without pressure from WADA? We’ll never know. But if WADA and the USADA had looked at the case more critically, they may have nipped this one before it ever got to this point given the number of flaws in the tests performed (All this devastation has it’s root cause within the lab’s document pack that was not self-supporting and whose conclusions were not self-evident). But all the people who should have known better, believed (or wanted to believe?) that their system was reliable (after all, they all dope, right? They get him to arbitration with the 2:1 system and they can’t lose because nobody will know all the inadequacies – unless Floyd chooses to have a public hearing and releases his docs on the internet. oops).
ASO should have staid out of this. Floyd was the winner until Floyd loses. That should have been the official position. That way they take the high road and bank the winner’s money to boot. By jumping up and trashing Floyd with their righteous indignation, they have put themselves in a position where they can’t turn back without looking the fools. If CAS declares the tests unreliable, as they should based on the evidence, what can ASO do that won’t look hypocritical or petty?
I expect that the Tour will become increasingly provincial. Slowly finding a level a little bit closer to that of the Giro.
There is no scenario where anyone wins.
If CAS supports the AAF then WADA will feel justified in their abhorrent behavior and practices.
If Floyd wins, few will believe him, and he will never recover his career.

Sean Gillette June 18, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Like everyone else who has left a comment, I sincerely feel for Floyd. On the flipside, I’m sincerely grateful that this happened for purely selfish reasons. I feel that with all that has happened we are all a bit better off, not the least of which is that we’ve all gotten a chance to truly know Floyd. Floyd has an “everyman” quality about him that truly inspires those of us who believe in him. Lest anyone is left unclear about my feelings on the topic, unless Floyd comes out some day years from now and says “yep, I did it,” I will go to my grave believing in the guy.

All of us who have taken the time to really study this are better off now because of the sacrifices of one Floyd Landis. The veil over our eyes has been lifted. We can see now what a truly corrupt and unfair system these athletes are forced to abide by and hopefully the good people out there like Floyd, and Rant, and WadaWatch and the folks over at TBV, along with all of the rest of us continue the fight until fairness prevails. That said, who could really blame Floyd for giving up at this point? I can recall leaving a comment here in this very same space some 16 months ago saying that no matter the outcome, the anti-doping authorities will get their 2 year suspension simply from a logistical standpoint, vindication for Floyd or not.

As for Floyd, I truly hope he has not given up. He’s come this far, and I hope he sees this if for no other reason than to know that there are still those of us who sincerely believe in him, and those of us who he inspires everyday to keep moving forward, no matter the circumstances. Floyd, please don’t give up the fight. A lot of us are still here, standing right beside you and believing in you every step of the way.

eightzero June 19, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Sean, I share your convictions. For me personally, this is not an academic exercise. I participate in an olympic sport, and have invested a lot of time, effort and money in competing. I will never rise to the level of competition Floyd has. I may one day go to the Olympic Games, but that will be because I bought a ticket to sit in the stands.

That said, I have availed myself to the powers of the USADA by accepting membership in an NGB. Should I one day be lucky enough to win an event, it could all be taken away from me without any sort of due process. I saw it happen to Floyd. I might be next. For me, the results would be far, far less tragic than what happened to Floyd. Still, I wonder what I would do. I can only hope I would have the courage he has shown.

Morgan Hunter June 19, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Rant,

Twenty-three MONTHS — too long!

The hacks “running” the alphabet soup did not start this fiasco with Floyd. Floyd and his Team were the only ones willing to take the “public” along for the ride. Personally — I thank you Floyd – and your Team.

As SG puts it: — “We can see now what a truly corrupt and unfair system these athletes are forced to abide by and hopefully the good people out there like Floyd, and Rant, and WadaWatch and the folks over at TBV, along with all of the rest of us continue the fight until fairness prevails.”

It may be not legalese but it sure states how the “ordinary tifosi FEEL!” Watch out alphabet soup — the “tifosi” are getting to know how you operate — and some of them REALLY DON’T LIKE IT!

Michael says in his last line – “If Floyd wins, few will believe him, and he will never recover his career.” — You are right Michael — Floyd will never be the same again — WIN or LOSE. If he “wins” he will run smack straight into the wall that “whistle blowers” have long known is out there. One thing for sure though, I think you have it wrong Michael — ANYONE with an ounce of intellect has realized that Floyd is a CHAMPION in all sense of the word.

When “push came to show” Floyd did not back down. Floyd is true to his status — he is a hero and not merely for winning the Tour de France — but for how he was willing, like in a great race, to PUT EVERYTHING ON THE LINE. Without such “heart” there can be no “champions” — only a crowd looking for their own little role to play!

8-0 — In a “fair world” the CAS would stand for JUSTICE and EVEN PLAYING FIELD — not populated by individuals with “conflict of interest” issues You and I and the rest of us would not be questioning — “what the hell is the final outcome.”

As Rant puts it — “the lesson here is “shut up and take the suspension, because we’ll bleed you dry if you don’t.” Is this what we as “tifosi,” as individuals who love to ride a bike or watch a “professional bike race” — WANT TO BE INVOLVED WITH? I don’t think so!

Some would like to believe that the Floyd Landis Story is a question of “cheating” — for me it was an experience in finding out JUST WHO THE REAL CROOKS ARE IN PRO RACING! From all I “learned” it certainly is not the “individual” who decides to cheat by “enhancing” his/her bodies’ abilities — IT IS HOW and by WHAT MEANS such individuals are being policed! So all you who are determined in your belief that Floyd is guilty — good luck chumps.

But let me point out to you all — be very careful if you have ANY ASPIRATIONS of joining the ranks of pro racing — you know what is WAITING FOR YOU! And may what ever god you believe in — help you.

Floyd — let me rough quote my least favorite philosopher, Nietzsche — “What ever doesn’t kill me — only makes me more powerful.” Hang tough dude. You did what the rest of us only “wished for” and never had the cajones to “put it all on the line!”

Larry June 19, 2008 at 11:31 pm

I’ve said this before … but litigation is not an enobling experience. I’m not a normal lawyer on this count, but when I have a client that wants to resort to litigation, I will usually try to talk him or her out of it. I don’t know anyone who’s been through a litigation who feels like a victor at the end of the process. It’s a lose-lose situation.

I doubt that Landis really had a choice. Like most litigants, he felt he had to fight. To walk away from the fight would have probably felt to him like an admission of guilt. But I’m terribly sorry that Landis had to go through this, and I fear that he’s been scarred by the process.

We Rantheads are a small minority of public opinion. The vast majority opinion is against us. Even the moderately educated public opinion is against us. Remember the Martin Dugard article? Where he said that he wanted to believe Landis, he tried to believe Landis, but at the end of the day he could not get around all those damning test results. I think that Dugard represents a point of view that, when compared to the opinions of most people, is relatively sympathetic to Landis. I think that most people think that Landis doped, and that the worst that can be said about the case against him is that the lab got a little sloppy with its paperwork. Because, goes public opinion, they’re all doping anyway. And if he didn’t dope, how do you explain all those test results that went against Floyd?

If Floyd wins, nothing in the ADA world will change for the better. The prevailing opinion is that doping testing circa 2006 was a flawed system, not because it was unfair to athletes, but because it didn’t catch enough cheats. We’re now in the world of doping testing 2008 style, ADA 2.0 if you will. We’re now in the world of the biological passport and targeted testing. Floyd’s case is an historical curiousity. It’s a case about gas lamps in the era of electric lights. No one is going to learn anything from this case, because no one is listening.

A lesson I learned last year, waiting for the original arbitration decision, is that relatively speaking, the waiting was the easy part. The hard part was when the decision was announced.

William Schart June 20, 2008 at 6:42 am

It would be nice if CAS were to reach decision which was a complete a vindication of Landis as possible, but I tend to doubt this. At best, we can hope for a narrow “victory” on technical grounds. At worst, the original decision will be upheld.

Then there is some room for a middle ground. Perhaps a decision which says while the testing may have been messed up, due to missing evidence it is impossible to tell if the errors were such that the evidence must be discarded or not, and so we (CAS) will figure Landis has served enough time and is now free to race, but there will be no overturning otherwise of the original decision.

If the anti-doping system, either in whole or in part, is to learn anything from this case, I suspect that they already have done so, quietly and in private. LNDD could have tightened up it procedures, UIC’s blood passport system could be in part an answer to problems of the more traditional tests, etc. Ever get away with something on the job and realize that next time, you might not be so lucky? So the next time, you do what is right, or at least, what is expected of you.

RobW June 20, 2008 at 11:09 am

William,

I’m probably being too cynical again, but I think the ADA’s have always been doing “what was expected of them” … the expectation being that they catch cheats. It’s all well and good to set an organizational goal of eliminating doping in cycling (or sport in general) … but if that was the expectation they set for themselves, they’d be forced to face the same impossibility they’ve set in front of accused athletes … How do you prove a negative?

If, suddenly, there was no more doping in cycling, then the ADAs and Labs would suddenly have no more AAFs to report … and if they were doing all that testing without any AAFs, people would eventually start asking “If you’re not catching anyone, how do we know you’re *capable* of catching anyone? How do we know they aren’t all cheating, and you just can’t detect it?” If they don’t keep catching “cheaters” — and visibly at that — then how does anyone know for sure that they’re doing their job?

Of course the other side of the coin is that their efforts DO manage to eliminate doping. In that case there’s still a reason for them to exist — to continue to maintain that new status quo. But that becomes a job they do quietly in the background, without notice or recognition. And somehow, I don’t think the Dick Pounds of the world are the type to be content working away day after day, doing a workman-like job that achieves it’s intended results, but without fanfare and publicity. After all, what’s the point of heading the agency that eliminated doping if no one ever talks anymore about your valiant crusade against evil?

In my mind, both those possibilities put them in a position better served if their goal is to burn heretics — I mean, to catch dopers — rather than to (eliminate doping and) ensure “fair play in sport”.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood today 😉

William Schart June 20, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Indeed, if the true goal was to eliminate doping, or at least reduce it to a minimal level, catching dopers would be only a part of an overall strategy. I see little evidence of such a strategy.

Morgan Hunter June 21, 2008 at 1:54 am

Larry,

As usual — your points are clear, direct and filled with subtle insight. I believe that you do what is right, even when things are not of the “popular opinion” category — “I don’t know anyone who’s been through a litigation who feels like a victor at the end of the process. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

I cannot but admire your ethics — not many people would “argue” against themselves in order to save a client from “pain and misery” at a real cost to himself. But as your words and thoughts indicate — it is the “right thing to do.”

Allow me to put in my two cents worth on this observation of yours — “To walk away from the fight would have probably felt to him (Landis) like an admission of guilt. But I’m terribly sorry that Landis had to go through this, and I fear that he’s been scarred by the process.”

Realistically and strategically I completely agree with you, Floyd Landis had to fight. There was no other “option” for him — since his character was put on the line and since he was robbed of his win and not to mention the money that goes with it.

On the second part of your observation — I hope you are wrong. I hope that Floyd will get through this process without permanent scarring.

This is possible you know — Floyd doesn’t have to interpret this event in his life in such a way as to make him into a “permanent victim” for life. No doubt about it — he will spend some time sorting out this event in his own psyche- a trauma like this must be sorted by any individual who goes through one. A very few can process this alone but – the majority need help — it is not easy to come to terms with the concept that you have been unjustly handled. I think only time will tell how Floyd will deal with this. I will stay optimistic, Floyd is after all a “champion” — he didn’t get there because he “avoids” the hard fight.

I think you are right when you write — “We Rantheads are a small minority of public opinion. Even the moderately educated public opinion is against us. Remember the Martin Dugard article?” Nonetheless — as you — I believe that this incident in pro cycling called the Floyd Landis Case is important. If for nothing else but that it gave the “public” a chance to look inside the mechanism of pro racing and how it is comported.

I believe that it has always been the case that the “majority” aims for what ever their “comfort zones” are. The majority desires a nonruffled life. It does not willingly face what does not function in its collective reality. The majority tends to use the rule of popular “opinion” rather then facts.

Lets not mince words here — the mob mentality is just that — mob mentality. It is horrendous and frightening — and most of the time it is at the very least myopic and destructive. As a Ranthead, I am not unaware of this — rather it is the very reason why I speak out as do you I believe.

I cannot “allow” myself to go along with a “wrong” that the majority chooses to ignore. After all — there was a time in certain lands where the “popular justice” for individuals that were accused or seen as not toting the majority opinions to get rid of them by means of the “rubber neck tie” — jam a man or woman into a car tire and set the tire on fire. Or to use the media to assassinate a mans character because he is not “liked” by the authorities.

As an individual and as a Ranthead — I have no real choice but to “speak out” against such abominations! I do not care if I am not of the majority when push comes to show and I see that mob thinking is ruling the day. I will not go quietly and gently into the night — no sir! I will be showed and jostled and resist to the very end! Why, because it is the right thing to do. I identify myself with the little kid who, when “seeing” the Emperors New Clothes – yells out — “But he’s naked!” – while the majority is busy covering up the fact what their own eyes are telling them — merely to “fit in.”

So — like the kid — I am yelling — “Hey! The governing bodies are the biggest crooks in the world!” The price of “membership” in the majority is way to high for me, as it would appear to be for many a Ranthead. I yell out not because I care that my voice be a part of the majority — but simply because — my intellect tells me — the facts show that something “stinks” and I know it stinks, and I may wonder why everybody else is acting like nothing smells, but I am still smelling the rot.

As far as I’m concerned — it is not a question of “whether Floyd Landis doped or not.” This question cannot be answered with all the material that has been put forth along with the testing processes employed. The mélange of vaguely worded rules, the issues of conflict of interests and the embedding of individuals with personal gain has shown the entire governance of pro cycling as corrupt. If anything – THIS shows itself clearly. No matter how the “majority” chooses to react!

“Hey! The governing bodies are corrupt!” The Floyd Landis Case has revealed them!

Larry June 21, 2008 at 11:37 am

Morgan, I loved your last post, and not just because it mostly agreed with mine!

I agree, speak out when you see that the prevailing powers that be are stupid, myopic, corrupt, unfair and unjust.

I point out that we Rantheads are in the vast minority, in argument against those who think that the CAS is going to stick its neck out to help Landis and to condemn the existing ADA system. There’s no pressure on them to do so, and no reason to think that they see the system in the way that we do. But that’s no reason for us to “go along” with them. I agree, speak out, keep yelling.

If you’re looking for a reason for optimism, remember that we’re the ones leaving the historic record. If someone wants to revisit the Landis case in 20 years, what will they find? They’ll find RYHO, and TBV. If there’s an ultimate history of the Landis case, we’re probably the ones who have started writing it.

They say that history is written by the winners. There’s truth to that, especially in the short term. But maybe in the long run, the winners are the ones who write the history.

eightzero June 24, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Will the timing of the CAS award say anything about how they reached their decision? In my mind, there are really 3 possibilities:

1. We are two weeks away from the start of the 2008 TdF. They can release now, during the “pre-race run-up;”
2. They can make an award during the three weeks of the TdF;
3. An award can be made at the end of the TdF, a within a mere few weeks of The Olympic Games.

A release soon, before the TdF, would be IMHO, the best time for an activist CAS to release a pro-Landis award. It would act as a shot across the bow: “Your testing procedures suck. Fix it, or you’ll hear from us again. And yeah, we’ve noticed your testing isn’t being done by the UCI. You might want to keep an eye on your labs.” A restrained CAS might wish to release a pro-USADA award before the TdF to say “Yea us. We found a doper. All celebrate, gather together and watch the spectacle of sport unfold as it should. Good riddance Astana. The invoice is in the mail, we prefer cash.”

A release during the race can’t be pro-Landis. Even the CAS knows this would suck for them too. “What, you guys couldn’t figure this out before we all jumped off the cliff together?” This would be particularly true if the race is being killed by some outta nowhere rookie sprinter, somehow, well…going up mountains like he’s on a goddam Harley. No way CAS rules against an anti-doping establishment when there is serious doubt about the practice being shown nightly on “must see take back the tour TV.” Even they’re not that dopey.

A pro-Landis result could be released in the last week if the race is close. If everyone is enthralled by actual racing, the ASO and assorted Big Whigs might not really care, can easily dismiss the 2006 races as “having no winner” and move on by seeing the 2008 race play out. Easy to shrug in very French fashion. “Zis ve do not care about….look! Behold! The Champs d’Elysee! Sacre bleu, what a race!”

After the race, in the run up to The Games is a very sensitive time for the CAS. They simply can’t give any signal to their Master, the IOC, that they’re soft on crime. Any pro-Landis result would have to come after the close of the games in late August.

If we see a Pro-USADA release this week, I’d take that as a sure sign the fix is in.

Rant June 24, 2008 at 7:05 pm

eight-zero,
That’s a very interesting analysis. I certainly don’t have any direct knowledge of when the ruling will come, but I’ve heard rumblings that it won’t come during the month of June — or if it does, that it will be at the end of June. Which is … any day now, I guess. But, having seen how long it took for the first panel to rule, I’m not sure that the current panel will take any less time — unless they’re actually working on it on a daily basis. Then, maybe, a judgment might take less than four months. If it does take four months, we’re looking at about August 18th. Smack-dab in the middle of the Olympics.

Previous post:

Next post: