Landis’ testimony centers on fired manager
MALIBU, Calif. ” Floyd Landis wriggled through an uncomfortable cross-examination Tuesday, stumbling through questions about the color of his tie and the timing of the decision to fire the manager who threatened to reveal Greg LeMond’s childhood sex abuse if he testified.
It was yet another salacious morning in an arbitration hearing for the Tour de France champion that has veered wildly between boring, dense science and allegations of witness tampering and who knew what when.
Attorneys from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency dredged up the events revealed by LeMond’s startling testimony from last Thursday. On that day, LeMond testified he’d received a phone call the night before from Landis’ manager, Will Geoghegan, who threatened to divulge the three-time Tour champion’s secret.
“Would you agree, that as my mother used to say, that a person’s character is revealed more by their actions than their words?” USADA attorney Matthew Barnett asked Landis.
“It sounds like a good saying,” Landis said.
Then, it got ugly, as Barnett tried to pin Landis down on when, exactly, he told his attorneys of the fateful call Geoghegan made last Wednesday night, and why he or his legal team waited to fire Geoghegan until after LeMond revealed details of the call.
LeMond’s testimony didn’t come until Thursday afternoon, and Geoghegan was sitting behind the defense table for the hearing Thursday morning.
With his attorneys, Howard Jacobs and Maurice Suh, objecting frequently to Barnett’s questions, different versions of the story emerged.
Landis testified that he told his attorneys about the call as soon as he arrived to the hearing room Thursday, though nobody thought to fire Geoghegan until after LeMond’s testimony.
“In hindsight, I probably should have fired him immediately, but I needed someone to talk to,” Landis said.
USADA attorneys tried to portray Landis as an active participant in the humiliation of LeMond. They pointed to his wardrobe that day ” wearing a black suit with a black tie instead of the yellow tie he’s worn every other day of the hearing ” as evidence that he had it in for LeMond.
“That’s why I wore the black suit, because it was a terrible thing that happened,” Landis said. “It wasn’t a thing to celebrate by wearing a yellow tie.”
Was the black tie symbolic support for LeMond?
“No. It was a disaster. Nothing good could come out of that day,” Landis said.
In fact, only bad things have come out of that day for Landis, whose new manager, Brent Kay, opened Monday by releasing a letter saying Geoghegan had entered a rehab clinic.
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant based in Malibu said a detective is investigating the police report LeMond filed after receiving the call.
The entire episode has shifted the focus away from the science that presumably will decide this case.
Instead, the hearing room feels more like a circus tent, and USADA attorneys showed no signs of changing the tone.
“You knew it would shatter your credibility if it came out that Geoghegan made the call?” Barnett asked, trying to prove Landis was hoping his manager would get away with the call.
“He’s my friend,” Landis said. “I guess I assumed he’d make a big deal out of the call. Yeah, I mean, it was a big deal.”
A three-man arbitration panel will decide whether to uphold Landis’ positive doping test after Stage 17 of last year’s Tour. If so, Landis would become the first person in the 104-year history of the race to have his title stripped because of a doping offense.