Too Little, Too Late

May 20 2010

You’ve probably heard by now that Floyd Landis has confessed.

Sadly, There isn’t a whole lot of data in the Landis emails. Floyd doesn’t really say anything that people haven’t been saying for years in late-night IM conversations and court depositions. I was hoping at least to get a photo of the vaunted refrigerated motorcycle panniers, but no such luck.

I think it’s great that Floyd has cleared his conscience, but the time for that was four years ago. Before the trial, the fund raising, the poorly-received book. Floyd spent over two million dollars unsuccessfully trying to undermine the scientific basis of the testing he now derides as a “charade”. Anyone else see a problem with that?

I’m not mad that Floyd has called these people out. Honestly, in all his accusations, the only surprising name for me is Leipheimer, who hangs tough in the Grand Tours, but tends to fade in the later stages—as if he’d been doing 200km a day for two weeks running. Hincapie, at 6′ 3″, 170, is a poor candidate for mountaintop stages. Zabriskie did have a bit of a purple patch a few years back, and as for Lance and Johan—well, that should be a surprise to no one.

No, my real beef with Floyd is that this is an essentially masturbatory effort on his part. People’s faith in Lance Armstrong borders on religious, and Floyd should know that anything short of hard evidence against his former teammate would be blown off as sour grapes.

Of course, the media will decide to pay attention, heaping more ignominy on the sport smack dab in the middle of the biggest American race—but hey, as long as your conscience feels better, right?

Even if every one of Floyd’s accusations is true, they’re all painfully easy to deny. Since there’s no incentive for athletes or officials to confess, anything that can be denied will be, and another round of denials only slims the chances that people who’ve cheated in the past will come clean.

Short of an amnesty—and good luck getting WADA to let go of their 8-year window of prosecution—nothing’s going to come of Floyd’s allegations beyond a few angry pixels. In fact, in many ways, Landis’ “confession” does more to hurt the cleanliness of cycling than it does to promote it.

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