Monday, July 31, 2006

Before setting out on the Alpine stage that became the high point, then the nadir of this year’s Tour de France, Floyd Landis went through his usual ritual with his physiologist, Allen Lim.

Sitting in a team bus festooned with sponsors’ logos, the pair took turns reading dark, humorous quotations from a book by Jack Handey while listening to Metallica.

“He told me that morning, ‘I’m going to go on an attack in this stage because I have nothing to lose,’ ” Lim said. “Floyd didn’t have the attitude that the stage must be a success. His attitude was that ‘I have to try,’ not that ‘I have to win.’ ”

Later that day, Landis did indeed win, setting up his victory in the Tour by moving to 3rd place from 11th in Stage 17. In a small trailer near the finish line, he also gave a urine sample that tested positive for an illegally high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. The result of a second test and, if it is also positive, a long appeal process will render the final judgment.
WaPo reports Justin Gatlin, the sprinter, has similarly tested positive.

And the analysis: "For some, last week’s news is a sign that doping controls have improved, but it may also be evidence that some athletes remain undeterred, tempted to break the rules by the promise of money and fame."