September 20, 2007

To no one's surprise, the arbitration panel hearing Floyd Landis' appeal of the drug "testing" that stripped him of the official designation as 2006 Tour de France champion upheld the ruling today, by a 2-1 margin.

Reading between the lines of the ruling, it's clear the panelists were deeply uncomfortable with the standards of evidence in use by the French lab, even agreeing with the cycling champ that the initial positive test that Landis "failed" was not credible. The whole ruling reads like one of those Rehnquist Court decisions upholding the death penalty, even though the defendant can be shown to be innocent, the police had planted evidence, etc., on the grounds that said evidence was never argued before the trial court. And the controversy concerning Greg LaMond and the crank phone call, which was the highlight of the prosecution's case-in-chief, received the minimal consideration that it deserved.

Anyways, kudos to Landis for fighting the good fight, and to Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times for exposing the whole sordid business of the drug testing racket to the light of day. This may well turn out to be the opening salvo in a much larger war, like the Curt Flood case, that the athletes shall win in the long run.

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