Floyd Landis wriggled through an uncomfortable cross-examination on Tuesday, carefully answering questions about the color of his tie and the timing of the firing of the manager who threatened to reveal Greg LeMond's childhood sex abuse if he testified.
It was yet another salacious morning in the Tour de France champion's doping appeals hearing, which has veered wildly between boring, dense science and allegations of witness tampering and who knew what when.
Attorneys from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) pursued questions relating to Thursday's revelations by LeMond in his testimony. 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, Barnett asked Landis when, exactly, he informed his attorneys of the call Geoghegan placed 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 sat behind the defense table for the hearing on Thursday morning.
With his attorneys, Howard Jacobs and Maurice Suh, objecting frequently to Barnett's questions, Landis told his story in bits and pieces.
Landis testified that he told his attorneys about the call as soon as he arrived at the hearing room on Thursday, though Geoghegan wasn't fired 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 paint 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 of his animus toward 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 of support for LeMond?
"No. It was a disaster. Nothing good could come out of that day," Landis said.
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant based in Malibu said a detective was investigating the police report LeMond filed after receiving the call.
The episode has shifted the focus away from the science that presumably will decide this case.
USADA attorneys showed no signs of changing the subject.
"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."
Barnett closed by asking about a pair of quotes, one from Landis and one from Geoghegan, both of which implied the Landis team would do anything to win this case.
"You don't want to be the one fighting the crazy guy with nothing to lose," Landis is quoted as saying in Bicycling Magazine.
And Geoghegan: "This is about doing what it takes to win," is what he told a crowd at a recent fundraising rally, as reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Landis didn't dispute either quote.
A three-man arbitration panel will decide whether to uphold Landis' positive doping test after Stage 17 of last year's Tour. If so, he would become the first person in the 104-year history of the race to have his title stripped because of a doping offense.
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