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Doping Prosecutor Drills Landis About Character

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Well, the Floyd Landis doping hearing ends today.

Over the past week and a half, witnesses have offered evidence either supporting or disputing the charge that Landis cheated while winning last year's Tour de France.

He tested positive for banned synthetic testosterone during the bicycle race. Landis' rare open hearing has been part painstaking science and part human drama. Yesterday, prosecutors focused on the drama as they took one last crack at Landis during cross-examination.

Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN: So here it was - the prosecution's big day. The chance to ask Floyd Landis in public and under oath about the positive drug test that helped tarnish an entire sport's reputation.

Landis denied doping when he testified to his lawyers this past weekend, so maybe that's why prosecutor Matthew Barnett quickly maneuvered away from the 2006 tour and specifics about testosterone and zeroed in instead on the character of the man in the witness box.

Mr. MATTHEW BARNETT (Attorney, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency): Would you also agree with the way my mom always put it, a person's character is revealed more by their actions than their words?

Mr. FLOYD LANDIS (Professional Cyclist): Sounds like a good saying, yeah.

GOLDMAN: So Barnett took Landis back to the hearing's most sensational moment. Last Thursday, former Tour de France champion Greg LeMond testified that Landis' business manager, Will Geoghegan, made a phone call to LeMond the night before, threatening to reveal at the hearing that LeMond was sexually abused as a child.

LeMond told Landis about the abuse in a private conversation last year. During yesterday's cross-examination, Landis admitted he told Geoghegan about it. Landis said he knew Geoghegan's phone call was a problem and he said he regretted firing Geoghegan the next day, after LeMond's public testimony.

Mr. LANDIS: I mean in hindsight, yeah, I thought he should have fired him immediately. But I didn't know what to do, so I wanted advice.

GOLDMAN: Landis said he thought the phone call probably traumatized Greg LeMond, which led attorney Barnett to ask several questions about clothing. Since the hearing began last week, Landis wore yellow neckties symbolic of the winner's yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

The day LeMond testified against Landis, Landis wore all black. A reporter covering the hearing said Landis told him the dark colors represent the end of any credibility Greg LeMond has left. Yesterday, Landis denied making the statement.

Mr. BARNETT: So, is it your testimony that you did not, in fact, wear your black suit, black shirt and black tie as a symbolic statement against Greg LeMond...

Mr. LANDIS: No. It was...

Mr. BARNETT: ...on the very morning that you knew (unintelligible) the traumatizing call by your business manager on the night before?

Mr. LANDIS: That's why I wore the black suit, because it was a terrible day; it was a bad thing to have happen. It wasn't a day to celebrate, wearing a yellow tie.

GOLDMAN: It's not certain the three arbitrators hearing the case will take into account sartorial symbols. However, before yesterday's cross-examination, they unanimously denied a motion by Landis' lawyers to strike all of Greg LeMond's testimony. There is a tremendous amount of science to pore over.

On Monday, the Landis defense was bolstered by an independent expert who raised legitimate concerns about Landis' test results from a French laboratory. There are a lot of assumptions being made, the expert said, and if someone's career depends on it, you don't go on assumptions.

The prosecution can point to renowned drug tester Don Catlin, who testified it's inescapable that Landis doped. The arbitrators are expected to decide the case in three to four weeks. If they find Landis guilty, he'll be the first Tour de France champion stripped of his title because of doping.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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