In the introduction on the NPR web site for “This I Believe” it is suggested that you clearly and succinctly state your belief. That’s easy in this case, I believe in Floyd Landis’ innocence. Maybe some of you don’t recognize the name right off the bat, but to quickly refresh your memories Landis is the cyclist who last July won the Tour de France cycling race only to have that victory questioned by an alleged positive result for doping which was leaked to the press three days after the end of the Tour. In this era of sports history when our eyes glaze over at the thought of yet one more cheating athlete it’s easy to dismiss his persistent denials of guilt as just another whiner who got caught and got what he deserved. It’s even easier to let Floyd Landis slip off the sports radar as a participant in a niche sport that has been dogged by doping scandals since the early 1990s, he is perceived as just another cheating cyclist. But he is different on many levels than other sports stars caught up in the glare of having to win at any cost. He was raised as a Mennonite in conservative Lancaster, Co. PA where it was a struggle for him to be able to express himself through cycling. Obviously he was not raised with dollar signs in his eyes, nor the delusion that he is a God on Earth because of his physical abilities. His dedication to training and hard work is now legendary, as is his integrity. Evidence has been mounting that the lab which conducted his tests has been sloppy in its procedures, and management and at this time the case appears to be moving in Landis favor. He has a hearing with USADA which is scheduled for May 14. But before the labs inaccuracies were revealed, and before a supposed bias towards “winning at any cost” was exhibited by the anti doping agencies themselves, I believed Floyd. He is not media savvy and has appeared uncomfortable at recent fund raising appearances where he is in a spotlight not of his own making. He is trying to raise money in order to pay for the estimated $2 mil. that this fight may cost him. Unfortunately he has paid a tremendously tragic price already. It’s been paid in public humiliation, financial hardship, and the suicide of a family member. Those things did not cause my belief in Landis’ innocence, they only bolstered my sympathies. No, from the very beginning I have just plain believed him. Why? I am not sure, but oddly enough in this time of uber cynicism in our society in general and particularly in sports, I have faith. It’s not easy to have this kind of faith in another human being, especially one you only know through the media glare. Maybe it’s just that I want to believe so much that I do, but the fact remains that I believe Floyd Landis is innocent, and until he tells me otherwise I will continue to do so.
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