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Landis-Gate Hits the Skids

The process to determine Floyd Landis' fate as a cyclist has officially slowed to a crawl. Landis' hearing before the USADA has now been scheduled for May 14, some four months after originally predicted. The process got bogged down in discovery fights, as in arguments over sharing documents. Apparently the USADA objected to requests of Team Landis, who no doubt asked for everything short of USADA's attorneys' secret notebooks. Nobody ever said due process was pretty.

Somewhat bizarrely, though, the French authorities at AFLD are set to hold a hearing tomorrow on a possible suspension from racing in France of up to two years based on the same violation. The UCI seems content to defer to Landis' national federation, but the French can't help themselves here. Landis will supposedly be entitled to a vigorous defense (which should pretty much spill his whole case out for the USADA folks to see). Mistakes at the lab and all that.

Seems odd, but I'm not totally without sympathy for the French here: the 2006 Tour title hangs in the balance, and the USADA process has ground down to such a crawl that the French authorities are looking at starting the next Tour without a resolution of the last one. With USADA's hearing May 14, that leaves some amount of time for a decision (coupla months?), followed by some additional time for an appeal to the Lausanne-based Court for Arbitration in Sport. In other words, there's no WAY this will be resolved before the London prologue. Even if he's cleared (which I hope, despite feeling totally agnostic), Floyd will be lucky to be finished in time to find a team for 2008.

Update [2007-2-8 11:18:54 by chris]: From SoCal: they canceled the hearing in exchange for Landis' pledge not to race in France this year. Which he wasn't likely to do anyway.