In 2006 Floyd Landis turned in one of the most amazing performances in the history of the Tour de France. Riding for Team Phonak he broke away from the peleton with an almost super-human effort to win Stage 17 and assure himself the honor of riding into Paris wearing the race leader's yellow jersey.
Mere days after that enormous effort Landis tested positive for a banned substance. For confirmation a second sample was tested and it too came back positive. Landis was stripped of his victory, giving the win to second place finisher Oscar Pereiro of the Spanish team, Caisse d'Epargne. Floyd Landis was banned from cycling for the next two years.
Ever since that first test came back positive, the cyclist has gone to great lengths to prove his innocence. He has done repeated interviews, testified in court, wrote a book and accepted millions of dollars from faithful fans and supporters. Today news broke of Landis' confession that he really did cheat to win the Tour de France and that it was a pattern of behavior dating back to 2002.
I remember back to the summer of 2006, the highs of the victory in Stage 17 and the lows when the positive test result was made public. I was so thoroughly disgusted with the cheating that I threw much of my cycling gear in the trash can. I don't think I even rode my bike for a couple of months.
That was nothing compared to how I feel about Floyd today. I think I'd feel even worse if I was one of those people who believed in him and donated money to his cause or bought his book. He has basically been living a lie for the past eight years and I don't know how he can look at himself in the mirror.
It's one thing to cheat, we see it all the time with athletes in other sports using performance enhancing drugs and claiming they don't know how it got into their bodies. But to go to the lengths of writing a book and taking people's hard earned money makes this situation that much harder to swallow.
He's even taking a page out of Jose Conseco's book and making allegations against others in his sport. Landis is most notably calling out former teammates Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie. Lance is possibly the most tested athlete in history and has never had a positive result. The other named riders have never tested positive or been accused of using illegal methods to boost performance.
"I want to clear my conscience". That's what Floyd Landis says in a New York Times article by Juliet Macur and Michael S. Schmidt. If that's the case he should've done it eight years ago and saved everyone the time, money, and aggravation.
For his performance from 2006 until today, I'd like to borrow a line from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and nominate Floyd Landis as this week's Worst Person in the World.