Dave Shields here again. Since I last posted on EV my enthusiasm has taken a big hit. In fact, I feel like a friend has whacked me over the head with a two by four. I became emotionally invested in the 2006 Tour de France. Floyd Landis’ inspirational stage seventeen ride put me on a major high. So like thousands of others I was sickened to hear the initial drug allegations against him. I searched for explanations, but one by one they have been proven unsatisfactory. The presence of artificial testosterone along with B test confirmation is the worst news. It’s now obvious that Landis failed this test because he had artificial testosterone in his system.
I wish I believed it was sabotage, but Landis’ own words convinced me it wasn't. Shortly after I saw old research circulating about the relationship of alcohol and testosterone, Floyd claimed he drank two beers and four shots of Jack Daniels the evening of stage sixteen. Not only didn’t it match his earlier story, but I couldn’t conceive of doing something like that before tackling the sort of terrain he faced the next day. It felt like he was setting up a smoke screen. Now he’s claiming that the drinking story wasn’t his idea, but he’s not saying whose it was or if it was a lie.
I believed in this guy, and at every opportunity I told others that they should, too. My posts here at EV are proof of that. That’s part of the reason I feel so let down. The fact is, I can understand why an athlete might succumb to the pressures to dope. Hell, I wrote a book on exactly that subject. I get frequent e-mail from readers saying that if they faced the pressures my protagonist, Ben Barnes did, they would take the drugs. If Floyd did succumb to those pressures he can redeem himself by telling the truth. It will help insure that future generations of athletes don’t find themselves in the same position. I realize this would be an incredibly hard step to take, but it’s what a true hero would do. Tough times don’t create character, they reveal it.
On a related note, although the organization that runs cycling owes Landis an explanation for at least two leaks that have unfairly sideswiped him, their goal to drive illegal drugs out of their sport is a good one. The result has been a boat load of bad media, but this is the right thing to do in the long term. Bicycle racing has taken a leadership role on this very important issue. Hopefully other sports will have the courage to follow.
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