(Update — Oct. 12, 2006 — Floyd Landis makes his case to the public)
You might not think that “white-out” would be one of the materials used by technicians at a world class doping investigation lab.
But cyclist Floyd Landis' defense team claims that lab officials in France wrote down urine sample numbers on testing forms that did not match Landis' Tour de France bike race sample number. The mistake was covered over with white-correction fluid, USA Today reports, and Landis' number was written in.
The correct procedure calls for the incorrect number to be stricken with a single line, and the correction noted with initials and a date.
Landis' spokesman, Michael Henson, told USA Today that his client isn't contending — at this point — that the sample wasn't his. He's merely pointing out the sloppiness of the work.
The Landis defense team will be making this, and other disclosures, on the FloydLandis website later this week. The presentation will include 300 pages of documentation. A PowerPoint presentation of Landis' defense has been prepared by Arnie Baker, a physician and Landis' coach.
The Trust but Verify blog, which has been covering the Landis case in-depth, says the lab documentation pack will be available on the Landis website on Thursday.
By taking his case to the public, Landis is making it easier for a cycling team to hire him in the future, whichever way his appeal goes.
Let's say he succeeds and the charges are thrown out. After seeing all the evidence in his favor, the public might be more likely see him as a vindicated victim of the system rather than just another cheater getting off on a technicality.
If the charges do stick, the public may still remember that there was plenty of reasonable doubt surrounding the doping charges and perhaps he was falsely accused.
How this plays out in the court of public opinion is just as important as how it plays out before a three-person arbitration panel in January and the Court of Arbitration of Sport if he loses. I don't think too many people understood or believed Tyler Hamilton's defense against blood doping charges. Although Hamilton's two-year suspension from pro cycling is over, you don't see any big name teams lining up to hire him. (In mid-September, Hamilton also was linked to the Spanish Operation Puerto doping probe.)
(The photo at top is a page from the Baker PowerPoint presentation that shows a lab report where a rider's number was whited-out and Landis' was inserted. It appears in USA Today.)