Sunday, August 06, 2006

Say It Ain't So, Floyd: Sabotage?

Everyone's more or less familiar with the case of Floyd Landis, who may be the first person to be stripped of his title in the Tour de France, professional cycling's answer to the question "What could possibly be worse than the Spanish Inquisition?"

At this point, what we know is that Floyd Landis, along with other riders in the Tour were regularly piss tested throughout the Tour. Of all the tests that Landis took, only one came back positive for a skewed testosterone/epitestosterone ratio.

We also know that taking a jolt of testosterone does not function as a pick me up-had Landis wanted that result and thrown caution to the winds he could have snorted a few lines of coke, for heaven's sake.

It has been stated by an unnamed New York Times 'source' that the test which determines whether the testosterone in question was artificial or naturally created came back positive.

The predictable results are appearing in the popular press, blogs, chatboards, and similar dubious sources. We have the curious spectacle of a person being led to the public guillotine by numerous 'sports fans' who probably would get out of breath pulling on their pants in the morning.

The collective thumbs down is coming from millions of otherwise meaningless idiots and lumpen proles who get, for one blazing moment, to feel themselves superior to someone who's rolling along in a modern day tumbril. They're swine of the lowest sort.

Well. I watched all of the Tour, and I can say with complete assurance that Floyd Landis rode the entire race-all 2,000 bloody, grinding, and agonizing miles of it. He was one of only 175 people in the entire world who was chosen to ride in the Tour, out of how many? Six billion or so? If there IS a bottle of testosterone somewhere, it couldn't move a millimeter under its own power.

One thing that nobody's considering here is, what about sabotage?

That's right. What about the possibility that someone slapped some of the stuff on the seat of the bike Floyd would be riding that day when nobody was around or drizzled a little inside his gloves? What about the possibility that someone sandbagged his test? What do all the other tests Floyd took say to the possibility he was cheating? The other tests say it didn't happen.

If people are inclined to cheat in pro cycling, how better to skew the results in your favor than to sandbag the top man with a squirt of a banned substance with a little DMSO while nobody's looking? Maybe one of those 'cycling fans' along the side of the road tossing 'water' at the riders, perhaps?

Unless you can eliminate that possibility, friends, you do NOT have a chain of evidence and you can NOT render a principled verdict of guilty as charged, because that's reasonable doubt.

Frankly, this is sounding more and more like a public crucifixion than anything else.

And, playing the Devil's Advocate, what if he did? What are we getting all moral about here, anyway? People cheat all the time-in their personal lives, they cheat on their tax returns, they lie to their spouses. NASCAR is the home of scientific cheating, it has an old and honorable tradition there, and the greatest crew chiefs were masters of the art. Nobody's lives were ruined, and the world went on its merry way.

The worst you can say is this: if the entire course of events played out conspires to strip Landis of his title and consign him to the dustbin of cycling history, so what? He dared greatly.

That's exactly what you heard me say-if it's all true, he risked it all on one throw of the dice.

Who among us has THAT kind of heart, let alone the legions of 'sports fans'? Maybe, with the results that the hip operation may have, his career would have ended this year and it was his last chance at the brass ring?

Here's what a notable American, Theodore Roosevelt, had to say on the subject.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

The absolute worst one can legitimately say at this remove is that Floyd Landis dared greatly and like Icarus before him, flew too close to the sun.

And that, finally, is a testimony to who he is: One of us.


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