Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Over (We Think)

The long and sometimes extremely bizarre travail of Floyd Landis appears to have come to an end, of sorts. The decision handed down by the CAS in Switzerland was much harsher in tone than the that from the Pepperdine proceedings, but the end result is much the same. The adverse decision has been upheld. (More discussion here, from TBV, elsewhere on Blogspot.)

Some observations follow:

One, I doubt that this is really and truly over. Legal matters are rarely over so long as there's a lawyer somewhere who hasn't got paid yet. Expect this to wend its way through someone's court system like a gut-shot mule for another year, at least. But at this point, Landis stands a better chance of drawing to an inside straight than winning vindication.

Two, the truly disappointing thing about this decision is its affirmation of the "competence" of the LNDD laboratory whose clown-tastic inability to follow procedures started this whole farce in the first place. Apparently, CAS looks at the officially-sanctioned labs and says, "Men of my stamp commit no crimes."

Mind you, I don't care enough to be really outraged. But it does stick in my craw to see shoddy work rewarded. What incentive does the Chatenay-Malabry lab have to improve its procedures, if even the most craptacular monkey-work passes international muster?

Maybe they've addressed their deficiencies, maybe not. Maybe the decision from Pepperdine was enough of a rap on the nose to set them straight, but I doubt it. No, the only rebuke strong enough is if a panel outright declares that their work isn't to be trusted, and overturns their result. That absolutely forces them to review how they keep records, run tests, and otherwise armor-plate their lab work with solid paperwork. As it stands, I wouldn't trust that lot to do a store-bought pregnancy test properly. I've seen no evidence that their standards have improved. I'm prepared to say otherwise, pending evidence to the contrary. I shan't hold my breath.

Meanwhile, it's almost time for the 2008 Tour to start ... and for the second year running, there's no returning champion riding to defend his title. And that's just sad. It's possibly the saddest thing about this entire sorry spectacle.

Maybe the worst is over, and we'll have a good, clean race this year. Maybe we'll see a race decided on the road, not in a test tube or a courtroom.

Wouldn't that be something?

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