Floyd Landis’ “B” sample proved to be just as bad as his “A” sample, as Saturday the International Cycling Union said the latest test confirmed that the now-former Tour champion had an elevated testosterone level.
Not only is Landis not considered to be the winner of the Tour de France, but his team Phonak immediately fired him and he faces a two-year ban from cycling. And you think you’re having a bad day.
Landis has vowed to fight this ruling and will do whatever he can to clear his name. The Landis defenders will continue with their conspiracy theories, many of which revolve around the belief the French lab that conducted the tests, Chatenay-Malabry, and other Frenchmen in the cycling hierarchy are out to destroy Landis. There are some variations on this theme, none of which include the one about Landis actually doing something wrong.
The Chatenay-Malabry lab – sounds like a good wine, doesn’t it? – has been embroiled in controversy before. In 2005 when French cycling newspaper L’ Equipe reported a lab had tested a 5-year old sample of Lance Armstrong’s urine and found traces of the banned substance EPO, guess what lab did the testing? If you guessed Chatenay-Malabry, give yourself a cookie.
EPO is a substance that improves the oxygen levels of the blood by raising the production of red blood cells. EPO has long been a favored substance among endurance athletes. EPO is used legitimately for cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy. Being that EPO has this legitimate and life-saving role; this substance is constantly being studied and is very available. But now, back to the Landis saga.
The fact that the same lab that has been accused of being a part of the plot to discredit Lance Armstrong is involved in this case has just added fuel to the fire of the Landis defenders.
In cycling circles there is a school of thought that believes the French will do anything – including falsifying doping results in any way possible – to discredit any non-French winner of the Tour, since a Frenchmen has not won this race in over 25 years. This sentiment seems to be confirmed by a poll that found Lance Armstrong was the most hated man in France.
It would seem that cyclists – especially American contenders – in the Tour de France would have their own “backup” system where a lab not affiliated with the Tour tests their urine AND blood. Just like people in positions of influence and power set up a blind trust to handle their financial matters, the different cycling teams could have this kind of blind trust urine and blood analysis system set up to protect their riders from French treachery.
Clean cyclists who have the trump card of a backup blood test to confirm the findings of the backup urine test would be assured to avoid the fate of Landis if they took this precaution.
If cyclists and their fans have all this time on their hands to think up all of the possible ways the French can sabotage them, surely they could come up with this simple way to protect themselves. If this feeling exists – and has existed for quite awhile – that a perfidious lab tech or French malcontent would do anything to discredit a non-French Tour winner, how is it that riders haven’t taken this simple step to have their own samples tested?
Can you think of any possible reasons why an athlete wouldn’t test their own blood and urine?