I just wouldn’t want to predict this one.
The general consensus is that the loser will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but I don’t consider that a given. Can Floyd Landis afford to continue this fight? Even if Floyd wins, there are hurdles for him in France, notably the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) which postponed its own investigation pending the U.S. arbitrators’ decision. There is also the matter of Tour de France organizer Amaury Sport Organization (A.S.O.) having decided months ago that Landis is guilty; they don’t want him back. You can probably say the same about the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). What team will want to jeopardize its chances of getting invited to the Tour de France by signing Floyd Landis? The sport’s leaders don’t care if he’s innocent or guilty. They are worried about image alone.
The French government has called a summit for October on the subject of doping in cycling. You read that right. Not doping in sport. Doping in cycling. A doping summit surely is necessary. (How about a summit to launch an investigation into statements by French rocker Johnny Hallyday that his friend, French football (soccer) superstar Zinedine Zidane, recommended “blood cleansing” in order to increase endurance?) But the fact that the French government continues to effectively give other sports a pass is a clear indication of their lack of will in the supposed anti-doping fight. The French Minister of Sport, Roselyne Bachelot, hopes to see her predecessor, Jean-François Lamour, installed as the replacement for Dick Pound at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November. That’s the real reason for the French government hosting this summit just one month before the vote. Look at us, we fight doping in sport! Yes, the same Lamour who could have used his influence to bust open Operation Puerto but instead helped, possibly forever, to incorrectly label OP as a “doping in cycling” case. Excuse my near-French but un-freakin’-believable.
The real question is how do you say “nazi frogmen” in French. (ed: That was a term used by Dick Pound, for those unaware.) But seriously, if Lamour takes over for Pound we will soon be longing for the good old days where Pound at least was entertaining. Lamour is as entertaining as watching paint dry on a snail.
The UCI initially said “no thanks” when WADA suggested the summit. But when governments, particularly Paris-based, host a summit, with plenty of wine and foie gras and oh that view from the Restaurant Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower, you don’t refuse.
The biggest disappointment of the Floyd Landis hearings? (Okay, second biggest after the LeMond/Geoghan fiasco.) Jacques de Ceaurriz, director of the controversial Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage (LNDD), didn’t have to testify. He was there but was able to leave without having to answer questions about the lab, no doubt to his great relief. If Lamour, who oversaw LNDD during his time at the French Ministry of Sport, is elected as chairman of WADA, some things are sure to remain buried.
Floyd may have doped but the larger story of years of questionable political influence at LNDD may never be fully told. Fortunately, there is one French journalist, a former journalist for L’Equipe (the key word of course being “former”), who did some digging back in 2002…..