July 27, 2006

Tour de France Winner Landis in Drug Controversy

It ain't over until it's over, and sometimes not even then. News organizations are reporting today that American Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France bike race, had an unusually high amount of testosterone in his body according to a drug test taken several stages before his victory last Sunday, after he made a historic comeback in stage 17. The International Cycling Union (with initials UCI, seemingly backward, but remember, it's Swiss) quaintly refers to this as "blood doping." If the second part of the Landis test confirms the earlier reading, Landis could be stripped of his championship.

A number of top cyclists, including contenders Jan Ulrich and Ivan Basso, were kicked out of the Tour de France before it started this year, in a huge blood doping scandal. The UCI has what amounts to a zero tolerance policy toward illegal drug use. Now, it may be simply that Landis has a lot of balls, or that this is part of a French anti-American conspiracy that has unfairly targeted Lance Armstrong in the past. But if the tests are accurate and fair, with adequate opportunity for those found in violation to explain themselves, there should be zero tolerance regarding illegal performance-enhancing drug use in all sports. (I say "performance-enhancing" because if Olympic snowboarders such as Ross Rebagliati, who was stripped of Olympic gold in Nagano in 1998 for marijuana use, want to do a few hits off the skull bong before their run, so that they think they're doing a 720 while still on the surface, and are preoccupied with having a Fluffernutter instead of sticking their landing, I'm sure their competitors won't mind one whit). Such a zero tolerance policy would be refreshing, say, in Major League Baseball, where in 1998 Michelen men Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both clobbered Roger Maris' single season home run record with enhanced forearms that would make Popeye blush, and now Barry Bonds is headed toward a home run record that, if it were in the cycling world, would be tossed out on its steroid-pumped ass.


At 4:41 AM, Anonymous Mik said...

I've heard doubts here at my office (I work with a slew of cycling psychos, and am once again becoming one myself) that this is true. I suppose tests on his second vial will be the proof, and we'll have to wait and see. A sad ending no matter the outcome to a semi bittersweet success, what with being Lance's protégé and all.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Jimmy K. said...

The problem is testosterone is
being measured using European men as the standard'

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Funny, Jimmy! But this doesn't seem to bother American women who go to Italy and swoon over the natives who deliver accented pickup lines as cheesy as Velveeta.


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