Thursday, July 27, 2006

Is Landis' Tour Victory Tainted?

Was Floyd Landis’ remarkable comeback win in the Tour de France too good to be true? Now with “Tour de France winner flunks drug test,” AP is reporting that there’s a shadow being cast over the American cyclist’s victory by you-know-what -- uh, oh -- a failed drug test.

“Floyd Landis’ stunning Tour de France victory just four days earlier was thrown into question Thursday when his team said he tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race. The Phonak team suspended Landis, pending results of the backup "B" sample of his drug test. If Landis is found guilty of doping, he could be stripped of the Tour title, and Spain's Oscar Pereiro would become champion.

“It wasn’t immediately known when the backup sample will be tested. The Swiss-based Phonak team said it was notified by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Wednesday that Landis’ sample showed ‘an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone’ when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday.”

Should we be disappointed? If we are, why should we be disappointed? Because it means he may have cheated? Or, because it means he got caught?

Some wags -- including some sportswriters, off-the-record -- suggest that nearly all the elite bicycle racers and track stars, and so forth, are using chemistry to enhance their performance. The challenge is to stay ahead of whatever are the latest tests.

Me, I wish I knew. I’m not even sure how much I think it ought to matter. The drugs and sports scandals that are rampant appear to be so full of hidden agendas, hypocrisy and mountains of money, it’s hard to find the good guys.

Good eyesight is a key to most sports, so is Lasik surgery cheating, too? What about cortisone shots? What about when the PGA stopped disabled pro golfer Casey Martin from being able to use a golf cart. What was the right thing to do there?

After decades of zillionaire owners and promoters ignoring all sorts of obvious drug-taking -- of all sorts -- by pro athletes, where the lines are being drawn on sports performance enhancements today seems rather arbitrary to me.

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