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Let Floyd Ride!

Floyd Landis’ doping case has been getting a lot of ink lately as it winds towards some sort of conclusion (hopefully) in May. He’s on the cover of your latest issue of Bicycling; his story even made it two days running into the Washington Post this week – a rarity for any cyclist outside of the three weeks in July that the sport is actually noticed!

Now, I’m not an expert on any aspect of the case. Not a doctor, nor a racer; and the League doesn’t really cover the competitive side of the sport at all. But our mission is to protect the rights of cyclists, and it seems to me that Floyd Landis is getting a pretty raw deal from “the authorities” right now.

Why do I say that? If you’d asked me at the start of the 2006 Tour de France which rider I thought was least likely to engage in doping, out of 200 or so riders Floyd Landis would have been at or near the top of the list. No question.

Last November, I listened to Dr. Arnie Baker present his defense of Landis at El Tour de Tucson (which, incidentally, is hosting our very own national rally this November). Again, I’m no expert, but the overwhelming impression Dr. Baker convincingly left with me is that the various testing labs and anti-doping agencies are almost comically inept in their handling of this and other cases – except it really isn’t so funny when they are affecting lives so fundamentally. The way the French labs are reported to have handled the latest round of tests and results simply confirms that impression.

This March, Floyd came to the League’s National Bike Summit in Washington DC and stood in front of 400 bicycle industry leaders and advocates and took questions. Without any preconditions. He talked of his love of cycling and the impact it had on his life growing up, and then it was open microphone time. I’m not sure that someone with something to hide would do that.

Full disclosure: I got a chance to hang out with Floyd a little. Just an hour or two – we’re hardly IM’ing each other or sharing pictures of the kids just yet! And believe me, I’m no Allison DuBois from the TV show Medium, who can see into people’s souls simply by shaking their hand. But once again, the overwhelming impression I got is that this is a man with nothing to hide and everything to lose by so publicly and visibly challenging the injustice that is being done to him. He is prepared to put himself and his career on the line in the full glare of the media just as he did in the Alps on his heroic ride last July.

I want him to win again. I want him to get his day in court just as I do every cyclist who is treated poorly by the police, the courts, or the judicial system. I want to enjoy watching the Tour again, and I want Floyd Landis to be able to enjoy the ride.

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