- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Floyd Landis is endeavoring to reprise his miraculous recovery in Stage 17 of the Tour de France last July, this time with a team of lawyers, public relations consultants and a plethora of experts at his side in Malibu, Calif.

Landis is down to an arbitration case and a prayer, neither prospect overly hopeful.

Landis already has tried a series of excuses, some more laughable than others.

He has trotted out the whiskey-and-beer defense, the thyroid-medication defense, the cortisone-shot defense, the virile-man defense and the French-were-out-to-get-him defense.

He even told Jay Leno the following: “At this point, I don’t know if it’s somehow or some way I ingested something that caused the tests to be that way.”

So this world-class athlete unknowingly consumed something that, conveniently enough, provided him with a massive physical lift going into Stage 17.

That almost is as good as the dog eating his prepared comments.

Otherwise, the evidence against the disgraced cyclist is fairly compelling — two positive test results that met the rigorous standards of the anti-doping entities in both France and the United States.

Both tests were taken after Landis discovered a previously unthinkable surge of energy in Stage 17 of the race.

The anti-doping laboratory found a plausible explanation, an incredibly elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in his “A” urine sample.

Ordinary humans have a 1-to-1 ratio. Landis’ was said to have measured at 11-to-1.

It is the contention of the Landis team that the system is flawed and that the earth is flat and the sun rises from the west.

His team is being paid good money to poke holes in the system and rehabilitate the tattered image of its client.

Landis has spent more than $1 million in his defense.

Even if he loses his arbitration case, he at least hopes to sway public opinion and keep the true believers on his side.

It also is the role of the Landis team to make the testing procedures seem more complex than they are.

But the testing of urine is not really all that problematic.

If it were, we all would be hiring lawyers to dispute the findings of our doctors following our annual medical checkups.

And Landis had the potential of absolution with the “B” sample test. Unfortunately for Landis, the “B” test showed the presence of synthetic testosterone as well.

The Landis team has a stack of materials intended to reveal the fallibleness of the infallibility.

Nothing presided over by humans is ever perfect, of course.

That is why we have so many lawyers.

But the anti-doping bodies are hardly neophytes around the challenges of the guilty.

The system has been tweaked and refined and procedurally enhanced over the years.

And we have come to expect our chemically enhanced athletes to deny, obfuscate and put up the old good fight, with the exception of Jose Canseco, who champions the beneficial properties of steroids.

So Landis is merely doing what others before him have done.

He has rounded up a team and opened his case to the public.

His team plans to question the procedural process of the case, starting with the French lab.

The hope is that would compromise the findings of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, assuming the independent body did not bother to check the same details as the Landis team.

That is a formidable proposition, given the USADA’s breadth of experience.

The agency has administered more than 40,000 tests since its inception on Oct. 1, 2000. Its scientists know their way around a lab and whether the methodology and procedures of another lab are solid.

Yet the accused inevitably want us to believe that somehow those in white coats are just sloppy enough to warrant skepticism.

If the white coats are sloppy, it possibly works to the advantage of the athletes, judging by the numbers.

Despite all its testing, the USADA rarely brings a case against an athlete, just in .005 percent of the tests in the last year.

That means athletes are not apt to question the results of .995 percent of the tests.

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