What turned me was the Floyd Landis interview on...pick one, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Live, CNN Live, ESPN News,or Fox News. Landis is answering questions, but he's speaking mealy-mouth lawyer instead of English. That's new.
I even remember the sentence that turned me; when Landis said that they -- meaning the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI ) -- didn't follow their own protocols.
Protocols sounds so scientific. I picture white-smocked scientists, a vast underground bunker, every wall coated with blinking yellow, green, and red lights. Yes, I see it now, those corrupt scientists are ignoring their protocols, probably the centrifugal protocol and the nuclear-implosion-to-get-the-coffee-going protocol.
Turns out, the protocol Landis was talking about had to do with the UCI releasing his test results to the media before he got a chance to see them.
Just a couple problems with that. The UCI didn't say Landis failed a doping test; they said "a rider" failed. And it was Floyd's own team (Phonak) who outed him, not the UCI. Later, the New York Times reported that a UCI source said that some of Floyd's testosterone was synthetic. Still, leaking Floyd's test results, while unethical, has nothing to do with the actual test results. The test results remain the same, leaked or no.
The way it works... The French national anti-doping lab does the testing. They are sent urine samples by Tour de France authorities, but do not know which sample belongs to which rider. All the samples are numbered. The UCI holds the master list.
Landis's urine samples showed that his ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone was 11 to 1, far above the usual ratio of 1 to 1, and way over the allowed ratio of 4 to 1. Worse, his sample showed traces of synthetic testosterone.
Landis is using the standard California DUI defense; namely, attack the tests, attack the methodology of the tests, question the chain of control, and propose alternate theories. ("Somebody rubbed flax seed oil on my knees.") The idea is to plant doubt, which is not that hard to do. According to a recent Harris Poll, one out of two Americans still believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Landis also complained that the UCI "made this public before I had a chance to figure out what was going on, and I was forced in the press to make comments before I could get educated on this."
The problem is the test results, not whether Landis had a chance to figure out what was going on. The press nags and whines and bullies, but I don't believe they actually forced Landis to make up increasingly desperate stories.
Landis and those around him have said his positive test can be explained by cortisone shots he takes for his hip condition or his thyroid medication or his natural metabolism or drinking beer with some whiskey the night before he was tested or getting dehydrated on the day the test was taken. After each theory was laughed off the table, Landis came out with a denial of his denials, saying, "Number one, the whiskey idea was not mine from the beginning. And the dehydration was a theory from the lawyers, which I must say I hired in Spain to represent me at the opening of the sample -- but was not authorized by me to say something like that, and I'm disappointed with that and something has to be done with that."
UCI president Pat McQuaid sees the predicament, "Of some 300 tests carried out during the tour, there was only one positive test. The problem is that it was the winner."
Landis started the tour lucky. By the time the race began, the top five finishers from the 2005 tour had either retired or were excluded due to an ongoing Spanish doping investigation. Landis had a good race through the Pyrenees, good enough to take the yellow jersey (by ten seconds) after the 15th stage.
And then, the collapse. He finished the 16th stage 8:08 behind the leader. Nobody makes up that much time. And he looked like dead-man-pedaling. And then, the next day, he flew over five hard climbs, cranked out the last 80 miles alone, and made up all but 38 seconds of what he lost.
You had to love his story. Even the French press got behind him.
Now comes the bust. Here's what German doctor Kurt Moosburger told cyclingnews.com about recovering after bonking on an Alpine stage: "To help recover, testosterone and human growth hormone can be used.... You put a standard testosterone patch that is used for male hormone-replacement therapy on your scrotum and leave it there for about six hours. The small dose is not sufficient to produce a positive urine result in the doping test, but the body actually recovers faster."
Message found on a podiumcafe.com forum, "If this is true. I'm done with it. Just fucking done."