05 August 2006

Floyd fills the sample cup

Our journalistic nose thought maybe something was fishy about Landis' stage 17 win after his utter breakdown on stage 16. But we congratulated him on these pages, and while we wish him luck as he fights the suspension and probable loss of title, yet our readers deserve this link as well:

Landis May Lose Title Over Test Result

No excuses (for him or us,) but it's not hard to understand why he doped up that day (if he did.) He's facing hip replacement surgery, which no pro cyclist has ever come back from; this tour is less contested (via operacion puerto,) than any he's ever been in or likely to be in; and he'd lost like 8-and-a-half minutes to the lead the day before.

Interesting tidbit: On the last day of the tour the English broadcasters on OLN relayed the following story: On the night they'd finished stage 16, where Landis had bonked and lost boucoup de time, the team had a meeting and whatever happened at that meeting convinced Landis' teammate Axel Merckx to call his father Eddie Merckx, a 5 time tour winner and one of the greatest cyclists ever, and in this call Axel told father Eddie that Landis would be making a big stab to earn back some of the time the next day (stage 17, which Landis won by enough time to put him back in yellow or just off by a fraction of a minute.)

And Eddie found the story so compelling that he went to a betting house and made a 75 pound bet on Landis to win the stage and the tour overall.

In hindsight it seems unlikely that this was all due to an inspirational speech, and much more likely that Phonak team members knew Landis was going to cheat, and Axel passed that along to his dad.

So does Eddie still win the bet if they take away Landis' yellow jersey, or does he have to give the money back? And if Eddie and Axel were trading on inside dope, (as it were,) could they be on the hook for criminal prosecution?

Perhaps the story will develop over the next few months.

Also notable is the deafening silence from Lance Armstrong on Landis' win and subsequent travails, given that Landis was a teammate of Lance for a few years, and of course Lance's own history with doping allegations.

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