Friday, July 28, 2006

Who is Floyd Landis?

I didn't know the name until a few days before he won the Tour de France. Of course, now he's all over the news thanks to his having tested positive for unusual levels of epitestosterone.

This pre-Tour Washington Post profile is interesting. Landis comes from eastern Pennsylvania and was raised in a Mennonite community. Cycling was his escape.
Bike riding was freedom, the most freedom he had ever felt. And, as he found when he was 16 and won the first race he ever entered, he was awfully good at it.

Cycling was also a way to put his growing frustrations with his family's lifestyle behind him.
If Landis can put this scandal behind him (and that seems unlikely) there's a film in his story.
Landis long ago reconciled with his parents. In 2004 they took their first trip overseas to witness the peloton racing up a peak in the Pyrenees. There the route was clotted with screaming, liquored-up, flag-draped Basques, who had poured in from Spain by the busload. Amid this rowdiness, clustered together in their high-necked frocks and crisp white bonnets, sat Landis's mother, Arlene, and three of his sisters, holding up a hand-painted banner. On it was the modest assertion: "We Support Floyd Landis."
I just don't understand why he would have taken drugs. Surely he must have known he'd test positive. And, if he didn't take drugs, is it possible to duplicate the effort he put in on Stage 17 and then test him again? Is there any possible natural explanation?

Anyway, Simon Barnes of the Times (London) says the sport of cycling is finished.