Landis decision by September 22

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…..

-Pete

2 Responses to “Landis decision by September 22”

  1. MJ Ray Says:

    Ye gods, why all the anti-French slurs? France is (and remains) one of the most passionate and plentiful cycle racing countries and is mostly doing well in how it’s handling this storm. There are big questions to ask about how the Canada-based WADA, the Swiss-based UCI and the Spanish investigators are handling doping in sport cases so badly, always allowing anything with a cycling connection to come back to doping-in-cycling and not throwing the spotlight on the footballers and others, so why bash the French so much?

  2. editor Says:

    MJ, since when is holding French government agencies accountable an “anti-French slur”? The media may like to play up ideas like “anti-French” or “anti-American” but we’ll keep it real here.

    This is also not about whether or not France is passionate about bike racing. Of course it is, as I well know from 18 years of living in France.

    I’ve repeatedly pointed out the faults of the UCI, A.S.O., etc. But the subject here is French government agencies ahead of the November vote on Pound’s replacement. The question I have for you is: Why should these agencies not be held accountable? As one independent French journalist pointed out in 2003, it is interesting that LNDD director Jacques de Ceaurriz “had no recollection” of being summoned to the French Ministry in the middle of the controversy surrounding the alleged ordered non-testing of the French soccer team before the 1998 World Cup, won by France. There are other examples but more recently there are serious questions about LNDD’s relationship with WADA.

    It is true, as we’ve noted before, that Lamour’s counterpart in Spain, Jaime Lissavetsky, has questions to answer about their handling of OP. But Lamour, who was French Minister of SPORT, had a chance to help bring out the broader truth about OP. When even L’Equipe TV asked Lamour in late 2006 for an update on OP, Lamour responded that he had “no new information” since the ouster of Ullrich, Basso et al on the eve of the 2006 Tour de France! He either knew the truth but didn’t want to share it with the public or he didn’t care to know the truth. Either way, the man who very possibly will replace Dick Pound at WADA had a key role in making OP about cycling and nothing else.

    Fortunately, many in France are the first to criticize Lamour, ASO, L’Equipe, etc. In fact, those most adamant about defending them tend to be furthest away from France.

    Let’s get the truth out there, demand transparency from all sides, and then we can decide whether or not something is really important. As it is now, we tend to only have “official versions” of what is going on from government agencies, international and national federations, etc. We should encourage, not discourage, attempts by journalists to investigate more than just the athletes. There are so few who dare do so as it is. Just as few sports journalists want to investigate the athletes they cover, for fear of losing access, few journalists on both sides of the Atlantic are willing to investigate government.

Leave a Reply