Landis' Admission Casts Doubt On His Accusation

Cycling's Floyd Landis admitted this week that he's been doping, and he accused Lance Armstrong of the same. Host Scott Simon talks to NPR's Tom Goldman about Landis' admission, the French Open and the NBA playoffs.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Controversy on the asphalt, hard knocks on the hardwood, and feet on clay, not feet of clay, on the tennis court.

NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us. Morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hello, Scott.

SIMON: And let's start with the big story that broke late this week: Floyd Landis says what a lot of people have found obvious: Yes, he's been doping. But he said Lance Armstrong has been doping too.

Now, Lance Armstrong has never certifiably tested positive for anything. Why should anyone believe Floyd Landis now?

GOLDMAN: Many already have decided they shouldn't, Scott. With his admission of doping for most of his pro career, he exposed himself as someone who had lied in a very big way, the way he has had this several-year-long public campaign to proclaim his innocence. So the question becomes: Can liars tell the truth?

In the sports doping world, we've had two men who have done that in recent years.

SIMON: Jose Conseco.

GOLDMAN: Exactly. Baseball's Jose Conseco was one, a guy with very low public credibility who was pointing fingers at other ballplayers, saying you took this and you took that. And those in large part have proved true.

And then Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, who denied his involvement with banned drugs and ended up going to jail - very low public credibility. He accused Marion Jones of doping, which she vigorously denied. And we all remember her tearful courthouse steps admission.

So Landis's credibility is as low as it can be. And there needs to be documentation of what he alleges before we start talking seriously about guilt. But it may be unfair to reject his claims out of hand and simply move on.

SIMON: Hmm. French Open opens tomorrow. Federer keep his title?

GOLDMAN: Well, you know, what's exciting about that is that Rafael Nadal, his longtime archrival, is healthy again, it appears. The knee problems he had in 2009 appear to be not there, at least for now. He's gone 15-0 this season and won all three clay court events in the series of professional tournaments now. And so while Federer is the top seed, I think a lot of people are thinking Nadal may get back on top at the French Open.

Nadal is the king of clay, the current reigning king of clay. But if they play in the finals, we're hoping for another, another epic match.

SIMON: Let's move on to basketball. Both the Lakers and the Celtics are two games up in the Conference Finals going into the weekend. Is there anything Phoenix and Orlando can do to prevent another L.A.-Boston finals?

GOLDMAN: Well, you know, there's always a chance. They say that's why they play the games, but the odds: not great at this point. Orlando has a fine team, but you look at what they did at the end of Game 2, when Vince Carter missed two key free throws and JJ Redick made - excuse me, but a bone-headed play and didn't call a timeout quickly enough. A championship caliber team doesn't do things like that, especially when the mistakes cost them a game at home and send them to Boston down two to nothing.

The Celtics, I think, look too good. Their big three players, Pierce and Allen and Kevin Garnett, look really strong. And then Rajon Rondo, this young point guard, is driving the show. He's been a wonder in the playoffs. I really like the Celtics' chances with the next two games in Boston.

And then L.A., firing on all cylinders as well. I thought the Suns would put up a better fight. They do have the advantage of the next two games in Phoenix, but the Lakers are bigger, more athletic. And Derek Fisher is doing a heck of a job on one of my favorite point guards, Steve Nash, who just hasn't played well enough. So if L.A. and Boston can keep playing as well as they have been, it'll mean pretty dull conference finals but a great NBA finals between these two classic rivals.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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