A Disaster for Floyd Landis, La Tour de France and Pro Cycling

You probably have heard that Floyd Landis’s “B” sample for doping during La Tour De France came up positive. He’s been fired by his team, Phonak, it’s almost a certainty his Tour victory will be taken away, and he’ll probably be suspended from racing for two years.

(In the U.S. innocence is presumed. In European pro cycling the rider must prove his or her innocence.)

This may be the first time in the Tour’s history that a winner has been disqualified; though in 1903 the Tour leader was disqualified for catching a train during a stage.

After each stage of the Tour the wearer of the maillot juane, the stage winner, and at least two other riders and two reserves are randomly selected and tested for doping. Floyd’s “A” test showed positive for synthetic testosterone. His results were nearly three times higher than the accepted level.

Floyd had been tested at least twice prior to winning stage 17—Stage 11 when he took the maillot juane and Stage 12 as he held it (we saw him on Bastille Day, the day he gave it up). No positives had been reported for him until Stage 17. If, as he says, he has naturally high levels of testosterone (11:1) why didn’t they show up in the earlier tests?

I saw him on live French TV during Stage 16 when he bonked, and Stage 17, which he won by more than five minutes. It was an incredible two days, with Floyd’s win described as the greatest victory since Charly Gaul's 100 km breakaway in the Alps in the 1958 Tour (which put Charly back into contention from a seemingly lost position). Gaul went on to win the final time trial and the Tour de France.

We wanted Floyd to win, we cheered at his victory, we were stunned by the charges, and are devastated by what we hear and read today. We want him to be not guilty, but the evidence is overwhelming. I feel like laying low in our village for several days.

We’ve heard commentaries about whether the stages should be shortened or if doping should be allowed. I am for the former. It was the great Italian cyclist Marco Pantoni who said, “We can’t do this on spaghetti alone.” Until something is changed, the pressures of money and winning will prevail.

Posted by Ray