Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tour de France

Phonak has confirmed that Floyd Landis's Stage 17 dope test showed levels of testosterone 5 times higher than normal. I suppose that might explain why Landis went through 70 water bottles during his Stage 17 ride. Sure, he needed to keep hydrated, but 70 bottles is excessive. Unless, of course, one might be hoping to purge something from one's system. In fairness, though, I don't know if fluids would have any impact on levels of ingested testosterone. I truly hope that the B Test proves the A test false, in which case the world press will owe Floyd a big apology. Sadly, though, that does not happen very often -- just ask Tyler Hamilton and David Millar.

For exactly one week, Floyd's Stage 17 ride to Morzine stood as one of -- if not the -- greatest individual stage rides in Tour history. Now, it is on the verge of becoming the single biggest scandal in Tour history. If the test is accurate, well, then Landis would have intentionally stolen from Oscar Pereiro the thrill of standing atop the podium in Paris. That would be a truly shameful thing to do.

It would be so shameful, in fact, that, but for those 70 water bottles, I'd have to believe a mistake has been made. And, 70 water bottles or no, I'm still leaning in that direction. After all, cycling's Euro-snobs went after Lance Armstrong for years. Then again, Lance never failed a test . . . even after his greatest, most grueling stage wins. And Lance never had to confront a situation in which he may have had only one chance to ever win the Tour, as Landis did this year with a hip replacement being on his agenda for the fall.

It appear that Floyd's Tour story isn't over yet. In fact, it may have only just begun.

Even if Landis's victory is a pathetic fraud, both the Tour and professional cycling will carry on. One of these days, though, the sport (and perhaps others as well) will have to give some thought to allowing professional athletes to use whatever performance enhancing drugs they want. At least that way we would know there is a level playing field and that the guy grabbing eight minutes back from the field isn't just cheating.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good Grief

If only the FBI took as much interest in those who vow to hack off heads as they appear to in a bullet-riddled book. If we're going to start worrying about blasphemy, perhaps we could at least pretend like we care about everyone's beliefs -- say, for example -- and not just those of the happy head hackers? Maybe, though, the FBI should worry itself with, you know, crime . . .