Saturday, June 23, 2007

Positively good reading

I completed Floyd's book the other night. It's a good read, very thought provoking and informative. I recommend it.

I believe in Floyd and his cause; perhaps now more so, because the book feels like first person perspective.

As TBV points out, there isn't really anything "revealed" that we didn't already know, but a few things didn't escape my notice:

While Floyd has Lots Of Important Things To Say about Dick Pound, WADA, USADA, LNDD, and the UCI, he is very measured about what he says about ASO, L'Equipe, and Le Tour. I think this is wise on his part, although it would be very easy for him to point out how badly he's been treated by the tour organizers. Still, Floyd's fame is directly linked forever to the Le Tour. He's the 2006 champion, and it will always be in his best interests to respect the event that brought him his fame. Some might be tempted to lash out at "the French," but Floyd never does. He does explain the situation with the parallel suit by the AFLD that is something of a hiatus, but his tone is fairly objective, even if he makes it clear he still isn't given a fair shake by that organization either. His criticisms are quite focused on those he has firsthand evidence of being responsible, namely WADA/USADA and LNDD. The resulting credibility boost is substantial, at least to me.

The caption of the photo of him with Amber is "...I am one lucky dude." After all that has been done to him, he still considers himself lucky.

At the beginning of the book, he describes his life as a kid, and what his family is like. Floyd and I have something in common: "I can say with 100-percent certainty that [my] parents are the most wonderful parents I could possibly have." Say what you like, and be skeptical as necessary, but Floyd writes about how he had to call his mother about the breaking news of the failed "A" sample. His Mennonite mother encouraged him to "tell the truth" and Floyd writes that he told her "I didn't do it." Well, golly, I can understand people perjuring themselves in front of grand juries, but given Floyd's background, I just can't believe he'd do that to the little old lady from Farmersville. Call me naiive....

The back cover of the book is the famous photo of Floyd winning stage 17. I hate to admit it, but while I love that picture (and I think of it when I punch the air in victory in my sport) it does remind me of the horrible things that happened next. Interestingly, the front cover with Floyd wearing the Malliot Jaune, complete with the trademarks of Le Tour visible, hasn't sparked some sort of uproar. Since the ASO doesn't consider him their champion anymore, I'm a little surprised a cease and desist letter hasn't gone out.

The appendix of the book has a thumbnail sketch of the Wiki Defense science. IIRC, part of USASA's case was to try to actually show a pattern/practice of different testosterone delivery methods, not just that it was used on stage 17. But the T/E ratio failure seems to be a result of too little epitestosterone, rather than too much testosterone. Is that possible by using the delivery methods USADA charges?

Floyd credits his power meter many times, explaining how he used it to win stage 17. He also explains how he won the Tour of Georgia that year, saying that the win surprised him. The peloton seemed to let him walk away with the win. Well, that also seems to be what happened on S17: no one believed it could be done. Like I say, there's dope in the peloton, but I think alot of it is is above the neck, and in the team directors.

Floyd denies there is a "culture of doping" in cycling. This is a bold statement, but it makes sense that he'd believe that. If he didn't personally encounter dopers, or pressure from his team, why would he form an opinion otherwise? Floyd does seem to consistently recognize the unreliability of hearsay. And given his development as a kid, it makes sense. While Floyd sure looked dazed and confused in the first few days after the story broke, he is not an unintelligent person. While there is surely lots of ghost writing here, it does come across as very Floyd. Lance, of course, is discussed rather plainly. Nothing remarkable or surprising, but it is nice to find someone that respects Lance as a peer, rather than demi-god. We love Lance, and I support his cause too, but Floyd speaks about him in pretty objective terms.

So, another batch of letters go out to my Congressman, Senators and the usual committee members. Likely the USADA arbitration is just the first step. Even the CAS appeal may not be the final say - the civil case in France is still something of an open-ended story.

The book is good, certainly food for thought. It doesn't have a happy ending though. Yet. And as Jack Handey says, "never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then you'll be a mile away from them, and you'll have their shoes."

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