DID HE DOPE? WE MAY NEVER KNOW
As an avid fan of the Tour de France and a supporter of the American project to place highly competitive cyclists in this European-dominated sport, I am really struggling with the whole Landis scenario.
SEARCH FOR EXPLANATIONS. I guess I've been vacillating between denial and exasperation for two weeks, all the while really hoping a plausible explanation can be found for Landis' high--and apparently at least partially externally introduced--levels of testosterone found in his blood sample taken at the end of Stage 17.
TWO REASONS WHY I THINK HE DIDN'T DOPE. Here's one reason why I don't think Landis doped: It would have been plain crazy for him to have doped and then ridden hard to win Stage 17--his comeback stage--knowing that every stage winner and Yellow Jersey wearer would tested. Would he--or anybody else--actually think they could get away with that? No way. No stealth drug or doping protocol is that good. Another reason: someone who intentionally doped would have had a thought-out justification and prepared plausible response to charges of doping. Landis was as taken aback and befuddled as anyone else.
WHAT ABOUT HIS OTHER BLOOD SAMPLES? Has Landis' blood samples from his days in the Yellow Jersey been tested and revealed to be high for testosterone, too? If they aren't out of bounds, then why was that blood sample different? Or, if they are all high, what is the basis of that consistent high? There are still more questions than answers for conclusive and condemning actions.
IT WILL BE A WHILE. I am not hopeful about the UCI testing on his B sample that will be in the news on Saturday. It is likely to be the same as his A sample. It will take an independent endocrinology test, to be conducted a bit later, to prove beyond reasonable doubt the actual, discernible sources of his elevated testosterone that day.
WHEN THE ACCUSERS AREN'T STRAIGHT. Remember: It took nearly a year for Lance Armstrong to be cleared after last year's annual round of accusations. And that inquiry found WADA's laboratory process to have been not only inaccurate and tainted, but biased and unethical.
NO EASY ANSWERS. So, there are no easy answers...even after the apparent answers are given. Behind the conclusions are questions. Such is the terrain of professional--and some amateur--sports these days. I guess the days of not second-guessing a championship performance may be gone...or at least in serious jeopardy.