Landis decision still hanging in balance

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As the end of summer rolls around, I get this terrible feeling that there's something out there I'm forgetting about; something undone.

Oh yeah. Floyd Landis. Guilty or not guilty?

We still don't know, but … VeloNews reports that a decision may be coming in mid- to late-September.

No decision

I've read so many newspaper or magazine article ledes over the past few months that call Landis the ousted or former Tour de France winner, that I sometimes forget that no decision has been made.

A three-judge arbitration panel had heard nine days of testimony in the case back in May and recessed to make a decision. Since then we've watched another Tour de France, heard about Landis signing countless autographs for his book “Positively False”, and read about him finishing 2nd on his new hip in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race.

Still, no decision. When I was a newspaper reporter covering courts for a local newspaper, a long deliberation by a jury usually spelled bad news for the prosecution. They'd either come back with a not guilty or hung. A few times it meant there were a couple hold-outs who the others would sway to a guilty verdict, but it usually favored the defense.

Last witness

I don't know if that's the case here. According to VeloNews and ABC (whose ESPN division acquired a memo to lawyers), panel chairman Patrice Brunet said arbitrators will meet with WADA's own scientific expert, Dr. Francesco Botre on Sept. 12. Botre attended the entire hearing to collect information and present his opinions privately to the panel.

After hearing from Botre, the panel will close the hearing process and it has 10 days to make a decision, according to ABC.

Above board

The nine-day hearing was in open session. The Sept. 12 hearing will be closed to the public, according to ABC. The WADA rep will get the last shot at the panel in a private session long after the main part of the open public hearing.

It seems to me if the panel wants to keep its findings free of the taint of suspicion and impropriety, there would be no harm in opening up the “testimony” from this last witness.

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