Doping Prosecutor Drills Landis About Character

Cyclist Floyd Landis faces hard questions about his personal character during cross examination at his doping hearing in Malibu, Calif. The Tour de France winner is defending himself against charges of using illegal synthetic steroids.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Well, the Floyd Landis doping hearing ends today.

Over the past week and a half, witnesses have offered evidence either supporting or disputing the charge that Landis cheated while winning last year's Tour de France.

He tested positive for banned synthetic testosterone during the bicycle race. Landis' rare open hearing has been part painstaking science and part human drama. Yesterday, prosecutors focused on the drama as they took one last crack at Landis during cross-examination.

Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN: So here it was - the prosecution's big day. The chance to ask Floyd Landis in public and under oath about the positive drug test that helped tarnish an entire sport's reputation.

Landis denied doping when he testified to his lawyers this past weekend, so maybe that's why prosecutor Matthew Barnett quickly maneuvered away from the 2006 tour and specifics about testosterone and zeroed in instead on the character of the man in the witness box.

Mr. MATTHEW BARNETT (Attorney, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency): Would you also agree with the way my mom always put it, a person's character is revealed more by their actions than their words?

Mr. FLOYD LANDIS (Professional Cyclist): Sounds like a good saying, yeah.

GOLDMAN: So Barnett took Landis back to the hearing's most sensational moment. Last Thursday, former Tour de France champion Greg LeMond testified that Landis' business manager, Will Geoghegan, made a phone call to LeMond the night before, threatening to reveal at the hearing that LeMond was sexually abused as a child.

LeMond told Landis about the abuse in a private conversation last year. During yesterday's cross-examination, Landis admitted he told Geoghegan about it. Landis said he knew Geoghegan's phone call was a problem and he said he regretted firing Geoghegan the next day, after LeMond's public testimony.

Mr. LANDIS: I mean in hindsight, yeah, I thought he should have fired him immediately. But I didn't know what to do, so I wanted advice.

GOLDMAN: Landis said he thought the phone call probably traumatized Greg LeMond, which led attorney Barnett to ask several questions about clothing. Since the hearing began last week, Landis wore yellow neckties symbolic of the winner's yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

The day LeMond testified against Landis, Landis wore all black. A reporter covering the hearing said Landis told him the dark colors represent the end of any credibility Greg LeMond has left. Yesterday, Landis denied making the statement.

Mr. BARNETT: So, is it your testimony that you did not, in fact, wear your black suit, black shirt and black tie as a symbolic statement against Greg LeMond...

Mr. LANDIS: No. It was...

Mr. BARNETT: ...on the very morning that you knew (unintelligible) the traumatizing call by your business manager on the night before?

Mr. LANDIS: That's why I wore the black suit, because it was a terrible day; it was a bad thing to have happen. It wasn't a day to celebrate, wearing a yellow tie.

GOLDMAN: It's not certain the three arbitrators hearing the case will take into account sartorial symbols. However, before yesterday's cross-examination, they unanimously denied a motion by Landis' lawyers to strike all of Greg LeMond's testimony. There is a tremendous amount of science to pore over.

On Monday, the Landis defense was bolstered by an independent expert who raised legitimate concerns about Landis' test results from a French laboratory. There are a lot of assumptions being made, the expert said, and if someone's career depends on it, you don't go on assumptions.

The prosecution can point to renowned drug tester Don Catlin, who testified it's inescapable that Landis doped. The arbitrators are expected to decide the case in three to four weeks. If they find Landis guilty, he'll be the first Tour de France champion stripped of his title because of doping.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Landis Drug Hearing Enters Final Day

A hearing into whether Floyd Landis took banned synthetic testosterone to help him win last year's Tour de France was expected to wrap up Wednesday, a day after a grueling cross-examination of the embattled cyclist.

The results of the hearing into two positive drug tests on samples taken from Landis at the time of the famous race will decide whether the 31-year-old American cyclist retains his win or becomes the first person in the history of the Tour de France to be stripped of the title.

Setting up Tuesday's testimony, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency attorney Matthew Barnett asked Landis if he would "agree, that as my mother used to say, that a person's character is revealed more by their actions than their words?"

"It sounds like a good saying," Landis replied.

Then Barnett revisited the dramatic testimony of fellow Tour champion Greg LeMond, who said he had received a threatening phone call from Landis' business manager warning him not to appear at the hearing.

Landis admitted he told his manager, Will Geoghegan, about a private conversation between the two cyclists in which LeMond revealed he had been sexually abused as a child. In his phone call to LeMond, Geoghegan threatened to reveal that secret.

The next day, LeMond told the committee of the call and his past sexual abuse.

Barnett tried to portray Landis and Geoghegan as scheming together to keep LeMond from testifying, then not showing remorse until they got caught.

Landis said he knew Geoghegan's phone call was a problem, and that he regretted firing his business manager the next day, after LeMond's testimony.

"In hindsight, yeah, I probably should've fired him immediately, but I didn't know what to do so I wanted [his] advice," Landis said.

Since the hearing began last week, journalists have written about Landis wearing yellow neckties, symbolic of the yellow jersey worn by the winner of the Tour de France.

On the day LeMond testified, however, Landis wore all black. A reporter covering the hearing said Landis had told him that the dark colors represented "the end of any credibility Greg LeMond has left."

Landis denied making the statement.

"I wore the black suit - because it was a terrible day. It was a bad thing that happened; it wasn't a day to celebrate wearing a yellow tie," he said.

After Tuesday's testimony, three arbitrators hearing the case denied a motion by attorneys for Landis to strike LeMond's earlier testimony.

On Monday, the Landis defense was bolstered by an independent expert, Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, a researcher in carbon isotope ratio testing at Queen's University, Belfast, who raised concerns about the drug test results, saying it relied on a lot of assumptions and that "if someone's career depends on it, you don't go on assumptions."

The arbitrators were expected to decide the case in three to four weeks.

— Tom Goldman with additional reporting from the Associated Press

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: