Thursday, September 20, 2007

Landis Stripped of Title

Well Ed asked me about Landis, which was actually the first I heard of it. So I thought I'd take a 15 minute break and jot down my thoughts. I wish I could say that I was 100% certain that Landis was innocent, or 100% certain that he's guilty, heck I wish I could say either thing with even 75% certainty, but I don't feel that I can. In fact my opinion on the matter changes from one day to the next. The Landis ruling does give some insight into the larger problems of doping in cycling and particularly the on going efforts to get rid of it. My opinion on this subject has always been that the riders need more protection from the possibility of erroneous prosecution. To put it another way I think that as a defendent that a cyclist should have most of the same rights as a defendent under the American legal system. Or in other words, to use the cliche that they should be "innocent until proven guilty".

To use an example from the actual trial, here's an excerpt from the VeloNews coverage of the verdict (

The majority of the panel found that while the initial testosterone-epitestosterone test was not "established in accordance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories," the more precise and expensive carbon-isotope ration analysis (IRMS), performed as a follow-up was accurate. As a result, "an anti-doping rule violation is established," said the majority.

The finding means that Landis was cleared of the initial positive T/E violation, but now faces a two-year suspension because the IRMS test did show the presence of exogenous testosterone.

Under the American system this sort of thing would very likely be "fruit of the poisonous tree". The second test only came about because of the first positive, which, according to velonews, was flawed. Now of course, as a fan I'm generally more interested in whether he did it or not, than whether everything was done exactly by the book. But the latter would certainly help me make up my mind about the former. And since (and this is has always been my #1 beef with how things are done) the very same lab which conducted the first, flawed, test conducted the second test how are we to be sure that it wasn't flawed as well? In fact it was this very thing which was alleged by the Landis camp.

As I said my opinion on this wavers from guilt back to innocence every few minutes (during those periods when I'm actually thinking about it). I guess right this second I'm leaning towards guilty. I mean Cristian Moreni was busted for taking testosterone and admitted his guilt, so there are cyclists doing it. And as much as I would like to believe that Landis' dramatic ride on the day of his positive was the result of shear guts, it does make a certain amount of sense that drugs would be involved. But man, it'd be a lot easier to condemn him if the doping agencies had gotten their act together and really done things in a way that left no room for doubt...

I need a hero...


Anonymous Ed said...

It seems to me that part of the problem could be fixed by using a second, respected lab in a generally neutral country (Chile? Canada? Iceland?). If both labs yield inconclusive, or an inconclusive/positive, then a second test by both would be in order. I don't see the big deal of a more expensive test in that case, since so much is at stake, both for the individual and for the sport.

5:17 PM  
Blogger aozora said...

I'd vote for Iceland. I hope it has all kinds of non-industrial advantages of in case I can retire there and avoid the heat for good.

That said, I'm not much drawn into the sporting controversy. If effort and guts really interested people our heroes would be the one-legged men in rear-end kicking contests.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous hallamigo said...

If he does end up admitting guilt, let us know.

10:17 AM  

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