Landis Doping Hearing Takes Twist

Former Tour de France champ Greg LeMond says he received threatening phone calls aimed at preventing his testimony at a hearing on doping allegations against American cyclist Floyd Landis. Also, LeMond says that he urged Landis in August to be truthful if he did use a banned substance.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

There was startling testimony yesterday at the doping hearing for Floyd Landis. Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond was called to testify. He ended up telling a jaw-dropping story that included damning information about Floyd Landis and what appears to be a case of attempted witness intimidation. The hearing is at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Three arbitrators will decide if Floyd Landis knowingly used banned drugs when he won the Tour de France last year.

NPR's Tom Goldman joins us, and Tom, you were at the hearing earlier this week, and things were going pretty slowly at the time, but it sounds like everything changed yesterday.

TOM GOLDMAN: Yes, it did. It changed with some riveting human drama. The prosecution invited Greg LeMond to testify about a phone conversation he had with Floyd Landis last August after the first reports that Landis had an abnormal drug test result at the Tour de France. Now, in that conversation LeMond said he told Landis he didn't know whether Landis actually doped, but if he did, he should be truthful about it, come clean. And yesterday at the hearing, here's what LeMond said Landis's response was.

Mr. GREG LeMOND (Former Tour de France Champion): He said what good would it do? He said, if I did it, it would probably destroy a lot of my friends and hurt a lot of people.

GOLDMAN: Now, obviously what's striking about that, Renee, is that Floyd Landis didn't respond by saying, Greg, I didn't take drugs, why should I have to come clean? Publicly, Floyd Landis has denied using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

MONTAGNE: And I understand, in telling the story of that phone conversation, Greg LeMond also revealed something intensely personal.

GOLDMAN: He told Floyd that he, Greg LeMond, had been sexually abused as a child and had kept it secret for many years. Now, LeMond said keeping it hidden almost destroyed him and that he didn't want Landis to suffer, if Landis had a secret about doping. In subsequent days, LeMond said he was upset to read a posting on an Internet message board that LeMond says Floyd Landis admitted writing. Here's LeMond reading a transcript yesterday of part of that message written by Landis about Greg LeMond.

Mr. LeMOND: If he ever opens his mouth again and the word Floyd comes out, I will tell you all some things that you will wish you didn't know, and unfortunately I will have entered the race to bottom, which is now in progress.

MONTAGNE: And that Internet posting sounds a bit threatening, I guess. Did anything ever come of it?

GOLDMAN: Well - now, here's where yesterday got really weird, Renee. LeMond testified that Wednesday night he got a phone call from a man who said he'd also be at the hearing Thursday and that he would reveal LeMond's story of sexual abuse. LeMond felt it was someone trying to intimidate him. He filed a police report, and the call was traced back to the phone of a person named Will Geoghegan, Floyd Landis's business manager.

Now, Geoghegan has been sitting behind the Landis defense table each day at the hearing, he is a member of the inner circle, but after LeMond's testimony, Landis's lawyer announced that Geoghegan had been fired as Landis's business manager as of right now, the lawyer said. LeMond also told reporters that Geoghegan admitted to him that he made the call and that he apologized.

MONTAGNE: Tom, with all this dramatic testimony, what is, if any, the impact on this case?

GOLDMAN: It's definitely a bad day for the Landis side. Not just the bombshells, but Landis's lawyers never got to cross-examine LeMond. They asked him a bunch of questions that he refused to answer, and the result of that stalemate was that arbitrators ended LeMond's testimony early and excused him. Landis's lawyer moved to strike all of LeMond's testimony, which arbitrators reportedly will consider later. That lawyer for Landis was so frustrated, he called the hearing a farce.

MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much him.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

MONTAGNE: NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

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Landis Doping Panel Hears Tale of Blackmail

Floyd Landis listens to testimony at Thursday's hearing in Malibu, Calif. i i

hide captionFloyd Landis listens to testimony at Thursday's hearing in Malibu, Calif.

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images
Floyd Landis listens to testimony at Thursday's hearing in Malibu, Calif.

Floyd Landis listens to testimony at Thursday's hearing in Malibu, Calif.

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond stunned a panel hearing allegations of doping against fellow cyclist Floyd Landis, revealing that he had received an anonymous phone call aimed at blackmailing him into not testifying.

Landis — who finished first in the 2006 Tour de France but is no longer considered the winner by Tour organizers after he tested positive test for a banned substance — had asked for the arbitration hearing to appeal his case.

LeMond was summoned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to testify about conversations he'd had with Landis that could have damaged the younger cyclist's case. LeMond said he had received a phone call the night before his scheduled testimony on Thursday from a telephone number he later traced to Landis' business manager, Will Geoghegan.

"I think they didn't want me coming here today," LeMond said. "I don't know why. If you didn't do anything wrong, why would you mind me coming here today?"

In a stunning twist, LeMond disclosed to the panel that he had been sexually abused as a child, saying the anonymous caller had threatened to reveal that information if Lemond showed up to testify.

It was something LeMond said he'd shared with Landis last August. LeMond had told Landis that keeping the secret for so many years had "almost destroyed" him and he encouraged Landis to come forward if the doping allegations were true.

LeMond said the phone call "was a real threat, it was real creepy, and I think it shows the extent of who it is. I think there's another side of Floyd that the public hasn't seen."

After the testimony, Geoghegan walked up to LeMond, apologized and admitted he made the call, LeMond said later. That led to Geoghegan's prompt firing, as announced by Landis attorney Maurice Suh.

Landis sat stoically throughout the testimony. He is not permitted to speak at the hearing.

The 31-year-old American cyclist was stripped of his victory after a lab in France determined that he had injected himself with the male hormone testosterone. Landis has repeatedly and publicly refused to accept those results, casting doubt on the competence of the lab.

In his cross-examination, another Landis attorney, Howard Jacobs, tried to ask LeMond about suggestions he had made that seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong might have doped. LeMond refused to answer, saying it wasn't at issue.

"I just have to say, again, this is completely unfair," Jacobs said.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, LeMond insisted his appearance was only meant to help the sport he thinks has been ruined by doping.

"The sport is paying the price for all the dishonesty and lies," he said. "The whole house of cards is starting to crumble."

Written by Scott Neuman with reporting by Tom Goldman and the Associated Press.

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