Friday, May 21, 2010

Floyd - Speak No Evil?

As I mentioned before, there are those who say that in cycling there is Omertà. But at least the mafia takes care of its own. In cycling you’re expected to keep quiet, deny the truth and protect your former teammates and rivals, even as they call you a crazy bastard and laugh that you’re a pathetic egoist.

UCI President Pat McQuaid told the Associated Press that Landis' allegations were "scandalous and mischievous."

"These guys coming out now with things like this from the past is only damaging the sport. If they've any love for the sport they wouldn't do it." - Pat McQuaid

Doping is such a corrupting process that it's hardly surprising to me that Floyd Landis would deny having cheated for four years, only to suddenly and violently reveal not just his guilt, but that of his former teammates. The economic incentives alone could have been enough (at the time) to persuade him to fight an illegitimate campaign. But in the end, like Greg LeMond predicted it would, the corrosive effect of living a lie finally got to Floyd and he cracked, but in a cathartic way. It's no doubt a bitter, disappointing experience for those who supported Landis for all these years (and worse for those who gave him money), but at the same time his confession and accusations hold the potential to help the sport. Seeing the reaction of Pat McQuaid alone was worth the chaos Floyd caused. McQuaid revealed that he - and by extension UCI - still cling to the mentality that exposing malfeasance in cycling by yourself or others is bad for business. [Irish radio interview with McQuaid, here.]  He also trotted out that lame complaint that if riders loved the sport, they wouldn't drag it through the mud by talking about doping. Anymore, that's like defending segregation during the height of the civil rights movement.

I've read through countless emails and comments responding to Landis' admissions, but admit that I feel  disappointment at the sudden ambivalence manifested by many who were apoplectic in the aftermath of previous doping revelations. That the first time a member of Lance's most inner-sanctum accuses him of cheating and provides detailed notes concerning what happened - only to be dismissed in some quarters as a kook - well, this in itself is telling.