Landis Confession Is Late, Lame

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - May 26, 2010
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Floyd Landis (right) rides with Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour of Algarve in Portugal

Let’s see a show of hands. Who was surprised when Floyd Landis admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career?

OK, now, who was surprised that he decided to take the entire sport - and its biggest star - down with him?

I’m guessing not too many hands were raised for either question.

Congratulations, you all passed.

For a time we may have wanted to believe that Landis wasn’t a cheat and that, like his former team-mate Lance Armstrong was just the victim in a huge plot to remove American athletes from competing in the most French of sporting events, all because the Pentagon renamed its fried potato snacks freedom fries.

But after years of increasingly wacky claims, actions and accusations, which were highlighted by his alleged involvement in a plan to hack into computers at a French testing lab, Landis had nothing left in his arsenal but to take down his entire sport.


Though he’d like us to believe he is coming out to chase away the night sweats caused by years of honorable dishonesty, the defrocked Tour de France winner is making the leap from angry victim to repentant abuser in a last, desperate effort to cash in.

Sound familiar?

Five years ago Pete Rose came to a similar opinion. After a decade of self-righteous indignation over base-ball’s refusal to take everything he said at face value even though he was opposed by a mountain of contrary evidence, he finally showed up, droopy faced and with enough practiced emotion to qualify for a Razzie, and made the most unsurprising admission in baseball history. His reason for doing so? My Prison Without Bars, his second book in which he admits to breaking the rules while discounting the evidence against him and putting others in positions of blame.

Sound familiar?

Landis still claims the 2006 test that caught him was inaccurate and that, while he takes full responsibility for using the drugs, other people played a big role. He then goes on to explain how the sport’s culture of doping opened the door for his use, and how Armstrong was a leader in the U.S. Postal Service team’s illegal drug program that included transfused blood stored in Armstrong’s Spanish apartment. Landis, the son of Quaker parents, has kept detailed records of his training going back to high school and said he would share the information with U.S. anti-doping officials, even though he admits to having no documentation supporting his claims that Armstrong and other team members used banned substances.

What makes Landis’confession interesting isn’t that he made it, but that it provides us with further examples of the amazing level of delusion that athletes employ.

After spending a lifetime being honored for the most mundane of accomplishments, athletes, along with their brothers in vice, i.e., actors, musicians and politicians, often lose the ability to recognize the hypocrisy of their actions. Landis spent an estimated $2 million defending his false claims of innocence. Rose chastised anyone who dared suggest he broke baseball’s biggest commandment. Rafael Palmeiro waved his finger of shame at members of Congress. And George Rekers claims he visited only to find a valet to help with his baggage.

International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid told AP he was shocked. Sounding rather Pollyannish, he said, “If they’ve any love for the sport, they wouldn’t do it.”

If McQuaid really believes that, then he is a bigger fool than the person on whom he is commenting.

Big-money athletics has everything to do with money and nothing to do with athletics. Landis took the drugs to win races and get bigger paychecks. It’s that simple.

Now it’s time to cash in before the opportunities run out.

“Now we’ve come to the point where the statute of limitations on the things I know is going to run out or start to run out next month,” Landis told ESPN. “If I don’t say something now, then it’s pointless to ever say it.”

Enough said.

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