Landis was caught by the Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage in Châtenay-Malabry, a facility in a suburb just southwest of Paris. The methods and procedures at the lab are sloppy, and the results it issues are increasingly suspect. Recently, the International Tennis Federation announced that drug tests from the French Open - held in Paris, by the way - would be shipped to a lab in Montreal rather than shuttled to Châtenay-Malabry. The ITF said it was an economic decision, but what was it going to say?
The French lab has spit out approximately three times as many positive results as other labs sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Those results, particularly the ones involving notable American cyclists, are also quickly leaked to L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper, which happens to be owned by the company that owns the Tour de France. So it's quite a racket.
Does any of this mean Floyd Landis is innocent, set up by nefarious Frenchmen who twirl their moustaches and laugh heartily at his plight? No, it does not. He may well be guilty. It means only that you can't trust the evidence.
This would be fine for Landis if his case was being heard in a court of law that adhered to innocent-until and the overriding escape hatch of reasonable doubt. Instead, his arbitration, which is being prosecuted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, will be judged by a three-man panel, and was probably decided before it began.
Each side in the case picks one arbitrator, and the third is supposed to be mutually agreed upon. That didn't happen, and the compromise member of the panel is someone who almost always rules against athletes. The decision is cooked, in other words, and Landis is done.Floyd won the 2006 Tour de France, fairly, I think. But even for as much as I’d like to say his incredible ride in Stage 17 is still one of the most exciting days in sports I have ever seen, I’d be lying if I said it’s not a little tainted now. Yes, Floyd will probably continue to race and could one even go back to ride in the Tour de France, but it will never be the same. And that just sucks.