Over the years I’ve had mixed feelings about Greg Lemond. When he won his Tours de France; the way he won (overcoming a 50 second deficit on the final stage, a time trial, to defeat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds) and under those circumstances (after being accidentally shot by his brother-in-law with a shotgun, nearly bleeding to death, and still carrying 37 shotgun pellets in his body, some in the lining of his heart) elevated him to near-mythic, super-human status. Over the ensuing years, some of his comments about doping in the sport, particularly those directed at Lance Armstrong came across (to me at least) as sour grapes or as a former athlete trying desperately to reclaim a piece of the spotlight.
Now there’s this news story. Very briefly; apparently, according to Lemond, Landis phoned him, they conversed and Landis admitted to having doped. But wait, there’s more. From the article:
LeMond went on to reveal that he told Landis that keeping dark secrets can ruin one’s life, then relayed his own story of being sexually abused as a child, a story LeMond said he had shared with only a few people and never talked about publicly until Thursday.
Then, Lemond gets a threatening phone call, the caller purporting to be the uncle who’d abused him. The call is traced back to Floyd Landis’s business manager, Will Geoghegan, who was promptly sacked and who admits to (and naturally apologises for) having made the call, saying he was upset and had had ‘a beer or two’. Really, Will? You did something that despicable and utterly stupid as the result of having ‘a beer or two’? That is some scary-ass brew!
Holy-fucking-guacamole! Could this whole mess get any more sordid and bizarre?
If you believe Landis (which is becoming harder and harder to do), it’s all either:
- A) Ineptitude on the part of the French testing facility or,
- B) A massive French conspiracy not just to take him down, but to get him to turn snitch and incriminate Lance Armstrong.
Given the events of the last few years (Virenque, Pantani, Ullrich, Hamilton, Basso, et al.), Lemond’s assertion that virtually the entire pro peloton is doping is seeming more and more plausible. It’s utterly heart-breaking.