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The Lance/Landis UXO

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I'm going to take the excuse that the existing thread is overstuffed (950 comments and counting) and could use a second one to add just a little personal perspective on the day's big news, that Floyd Landis has admitted his own doping and simultaneously accused Lance Armstrong of having doped as well during their days as members of the US Postal squad. At this late hour I suspect everything useful to say has already been said in the first thread, but I can't let something this big pass without any comment.

This issue, I think of it as UXO, a nickname for unexploded ordnance, bombs and grenades that have been discharged without exploding... laying in the soil just waiting for an excuse to go off. The explosive material here is the truth, and like UXO you can keep it buried for a long time, theoretically forever. But it never loses its potency. And truth comes with the added threat in that it exists in a world poised to draw it out. We as individuals have a natural interest in the truth, if only so we can understand our reality. As a society we collectively celebrate truth and punish liars. So burying the truth in a society that you know wants it exposed is even harder than keeping UXO buried in the Earth. In this case, for Landis to keep his secrets required him to maintain a permanent vigilance against telling the story everyone wanted him to tell. The pressure to speak is like oxygen, never going away, abhorring a vacuum. This week, Landis' seemingly eternal vigilance against the truth gave out.

As for its meaning to cycling, I don't expect it to change much in the long run. Armstrong's veracity has been under attack since the early 2000s, and the sum total of the speculation consisted of believing that he probably did something, if only because the era in which he raced foreclosed any reasonable alternative. Landis' case is somewhat worse, since he achieved his short-lived triumph in an era when the sport was trying to turn the tide. But both athletes are the product of an era of virtually unchecked doping, the mid-to-latter stages of the latest, hopefully last, great doping epoch. Teams were complicit, if not outright demanding that riders dope. The UCI under Hein Verbruggen was completely complicit, with its standard of 50% hematocrit virtually requiring riders to raise their number to 49.9... and keep it there. The races have always plumbed natural tension with the riders' physical limits, often recklessly, with major implications for PED use. A lot of those tensions have been diminished, but as we can see few if any of them have been extinguished. 

This episode is likely to devolve into a horrible, endless war of credibility with little change besides the assurance of mutual destruction. Going forward, let's all keep a strict separation between the doping threads and every other subject here -- meaning, if you want to talk about doping, switch to the appropriate post or start a new one. I would imagine that after today there will be a fairly strong collective need for a place to focus on something else, anything else, like maybe the two wonderful stage races happening. And lastly, thanks again to everyone for keeping the discussion so collegial and respectful. I like to think that at the Podium Cafe, we wouldn't have it any other way.

[Link to first thread]