Floyd Landis lost his appeal today and becomes the 1st cyclist to have his Tour de France title stripped due to doping. The ruling also upholds Landis' two-year ban from cycling which expires January 29, 2009.
A three person panel from the the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a previous panel's decision validating a positive drug test back in 2006 after Landis staged an improbable comeback in Stage 17 that was aided by synthetic testosterone.
In the 58-page decision, the CAS panel said that the lab performing the analysis did not have impeccable quality control, but did not involve any fraud or cover-ups as Landis alleged. The panel continued its criticisms of Landis by stating that he tried to muddle the evidence while blaming the lab and continued with that line of reasoning even when the evidence contradicted him.
The decision said, "Appelant's experts crossed the line, acting for the most part as advocates for the Appelant's cause, and not as scientists objectively assisting the panel in the search for the truth."
The case reached sports' highest court after his first arbitration case last May ended with the arbitrators disappointed in USADA and determining that the testing labs practices were less than ideal.
Most accused cyclists do not defend themselves the way Landis has. Athletes lack the funds to properly defend themselves in this type of case. Landis overcame this issue by creating a fundraising campaign in addition to several private sources contributing to his defense. His defense is estimated to have cost more than $2MM.
This case didn't lack in drama either. Greg Lemond testified that Landis admitted to him that he doped, but the panel couldn't use that testimony as an admission. However, before Lemond testified, Landis' manager called him the night before and threatened to disclose to the world "LeMond's secret" if he showed up the next day. LeMond showed up, and disclosed that he was sexually abused as a child and telling the panel that he told Landis this information...and then receiving a phone call from a member of Landis' camp the night before.
Do us all a favor and admit that you cheated. From the litany of explanations (drinking alcohol, naturally high testosterone, dehydration, thyroid medication, and a conspiracy against him), it just doesn't add up for a sane person - you might get the conspiracy theorists to jump on board, but that's about it.
That is the first step on the road to recovery for Landis. If you don't get past stage 1, there is no stage 2. Unlike Lance Armstrong, there is a smoking gun for you, the positive test so to "deny, deny, deny" is not going to get you anywhere. Your credibility is greatly enhanced if your current explanation is the same as your original explanation for the positive test. Look on the bright side, 7 months until the 2 year ban expires.