To continue the saga of TBV, there’s a post that he put up that gives the story of his accident (with an amusing quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). By the sounds of things, he’s one very lucky dude to be alive. TBV’s story is quite scary. I’ve had some crashes in my time, but never anything quite like that. No excessively close encounters of the automotive kind for me. Some quick thinking and good bike handling kept TBV from suffering greater injuries. Planning ahead and understanding how to react in an emergency, coupled with knowing how to handle your bike can be real life savers.
And speaking of bouncing back, attorneys for Floyd Landis filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Los Angeles on Friday, seeking to throw out the CAS panel’s ruling in his case. Bonnie Ford has a very detailed story, posted over at ESPN.com. Among the many interesting tidbits to the story is that USA Cycling and USADA are holding Landis’ racing licence hostage until he pays the $100,000 fine imposed by the CAS.Â As she tells us:
The lawyers filed the motion on the grounds that the three men on the panel — including the arbitrator Landis chose — should have disclosed conflicts of interest that could have led to bias in their decision.
The core of Landis’ argument this time is that the three CAS arbitrators who heard his case come from a limited pool of candidates who often switch roles, sometimes serving as panelists, sometimes serving as lawyers representing clients in front of those panels — thus giving them an incentive to rule favorably for each other.
Richard Young, the attorney who prosecuted the Landis case for the US Anti-Doping Agency told Bonnie Ford:
“Because CAS is a Swiss body [headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland], if you want to attack a CAS award, the vehicle is the Swiss Federal Tribunal,” Young said. “As far as I know, everyone who has gone outside of that has been unsuccessful.”
I’m not sure how many athletes have ever tried to challenge a CAS award outside of the Swiss courts, but one recent example would be Justin Gatlin, who tried to have the suspension imposed on him for testing positive for synthetic testoserone (sound familiar?) reduced earlier this year, so that he could attempt to qualify for (and perhaps compete in) the Beijing Olympics. The US court that Gatlin appealed to decided that they had no jursidiction in the case, which means that the original suspension imposed on Gatlin still applies.
Before the courts consider any of the arguments about whether the Landis ruling should be thrown out, the court will have to determine whether there is any legal authority for them to do so. Clearly, Landis’ lawyers feel that there must be some grounds to do so. Otherwise, filing the lawsuit would be a waste of time and money.
At this point, no copies of the paperwork filed on Friday have surfaced for public consumption. Once the document(s) are available to the public, we will be able to see just how strong an argument the Landis legal team has. Bonnie Ford apparently has seen the document, as she quotes several brief passages in her article.
If Landis’ lawyers can make a compelling argument as to why the US courts would have jurisdiction to hear and decide on his complaint, we may well be in for a new chapter in this tragedy. I certainly hope that the ongoing battle will have no ill effect on Floyd’s ability to sign with a team for 2009, and on his ability to actually race. If he’s not able to have the $100,000 fine thrown out, he’s going to need a good contract, with a certain amount up front, just so he could get his racing licence.
Exactly when the US District Court might act on Landis’ case has not been announced. Update: Although it’s not clear when the US District Court will issue a ruling, an update at Trust But Verify notes that initial appearances by attorneys representing each side in the case are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on November 3rd. TBV also notes that the case has been assigned to District Judge Percy Anderson and Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle.
This is definitely adding a new chapter to what is already shaping up to be a very interesting year in the world of professional cycling. If Landis wins, or if he at least gets the $100,000 penalty thrown out, it may be a measure of vindication.
“I think I’d have some sense of exoneration — maybe not what I had hoped for,” he told Bonnie Ford on Friday. Indeed. It wouldn’t be what he’d hoped for, but at least it would be something.