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Original Issue

Offensive Tactics

Cyclist Floyd Landis and Justin Gatlin's coach attempt damage control

Throughout theTour de France controversy, experts have noted that taking testosterone thenight before a competition would not lead to a power surge the next day. EvenFloyd Landis, who rode into Paris wearing the yellow jersey on July 24, hasstated that the male hormone "doesn't work that way." Based on theresults of his eagerly awaited B sample, no sane person would question Landis'sfamiliarity with the substance. But however all that illegal stuff invaded hissystem, it may have finally kicked in on Monday when Landis, tying a record setby American Idol judge Simon Cowell, made a whirlwind tour of all four networkmorning shows. He insisted that he is innocent and said that he wants to remainin cycling, "the most beautiful sport in the world." As for thequestion of why his B sample confirmed the finding of a testosterone flood, hehas no answers. He is not about answers now; he is about strategy.

Long gone are thedays of late July when he was fumbling before the microphones and offering theJack Daniels defense and saying, when asked if he had ever used performanceenhancers, "I will say no." Landis has hired a new lawyer, and he nowbrings his wife, Amber, on appearances and makes heavy use of the wordprotocols, as in (to Matt Lauer), "The people doing the testing didn'tfollow their own protocols." But he is talking only about the schedules onwhich his test failures were announced, not their validity. Landis, who isexpected to be stripped of his Tour title soon, is envious of sprinter JustinGatlin, who was told that he had tested positive for excess testosterone threemonths before the public knew, "while I had only two days to react tomine."

Still, the Gatlincamp's response is not exactly redolent of extra prep time. Gatlin's coach,Trevor Graham, who seems to specialize in controversial athletes such as TimMontgomery and Marion Jones, last week could suggest only that the trackcommunity is out to get Gatlin and repeat that a masseur, ChristopherWhetstine, had smeared the runner with testosterone cream. (Two months afterthe alleged rubdown--which Whetstine denies--the masseur was assaulted inIndianapolis. The prime suspect is Llewellyn Starks, a Nike employee who hasworked as an adviser to Montgomery and Jones.) The plot sickens, but thedenouement may be at hand. Last Thursday the USOC barred Graham from itsfacilities, and North Carolina Central University, where Graham has beentraining athletes, followed suit. Graham's sponsor, Nike, when asked if he wasstill employed there, said, "He is today."




With his wife at his side on NBC, Landis said the ICU botched hiscase.