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USADA Tries To Portray Landis As A Bad Character

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) _ Floyd Landis came to California hoping to portray himself as a victim of a justice system gone haywire, filled with overzealous prosecutors and incompetent lab workers.

The science may still prove him right on that point. But the folks trying to ban the Tour de France winner from cycling had another heyday attacking his character in what has become a made-for-the-tabloids hearing.

Attorneys for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency ran the gamut Tuesday, asking Landis about everything from testosterone to telephone calls to neckties in a cross-examination built to portray him as someone who would do anything to win his case.

Anything, they claimed, included trying to intimidate and humiliate Greg LeMond, whose revelations of sexual abuse and potential witness tampering turned this hearing into a melodrama.

``Would you agree, that as my mother used to say, that a person's character is revealed more by their actions than their words?'' U.S. Anti-Doping Agency attorney Matthew Barnett asked Landis.

``It sounds like a good saying,'' Landis said.

Then, it got ugly, as Barnett dredged up events surrounding testimony LeMond gave last Thursday. On that day, the three-time Tour champion testified he'd received a phone call the night before from Landis' manager, Will Geoghegan, who threatened to divulge LeMond's secret.

Barnett tried to portray Landis and Geoghegan as scheming together to keep LeMond from testifying, then not showing remorse until they got caught.

Landis said that although he was sitting near Geoghegan when the manager made the call last Wednesday night, he didn't know what was going on until later.

Barnett tried to pin him down on when, exactly, he told his attorneys of the call, and why he waited to fire Geoghegan until after LeMond revealed details of the call on the witness stand.

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 LeMond plan. They pointed to his wardrobe that day _ 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.

Only bad things have come out of that day for Landis, whose new manager, Brent Kay, opened this week 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.

As part of their strategy to question Landis' character, USADA attorneys also asked him about his decision to join the Phonak cycling team despite knowing the team had well-documented problems with doping.

``While I was concerned about it, if I understood they were going to make changes that were the source of the problems, then I was happy with that,'' Landis said.

Attorneys never directly asked Landis if he used synthetic testosterone, as positive tests after Stage 17 at last year's Tour show he did. Answering questions from his own attorneys Saturday, Landis repeatedly denied he was a drug cheat and said winning that way would go against everything he stands for.

Hoping to bring a little sanity back to the hearing, the Landis attorneys brought expert Simon Davis to the witness stand in the afternoon. He testified for three hours before the hearing was adjourned for the day, with more testimony scheduled for Wednesday.

Davis was the expert present at the Chatenay-Malabry lab near Paris, whom technician Cynthia Mongongu accused of ``accosting'' her while he observed her run tests of Landis' urine.

Davis' testimony was about what he called shoddy practices at the lab that produced ``totally unreliable'' results.

He produced pictures from inside the lab that he took with his cell phone, one of which shows a set of magnetic lifting rings sitting atop one of the machines.

He said the rings, which looked like ``Mickey Mouse hats,'' are designed to lift a very heavy magnet used in one of the machines. He testified that they shouldn't be haphazardly sitting on the machine and could interfere with the magnetic field, which could lead to dramatically incorrect results.

``You can have faults with the source, faults with the detectors,'' he said, describing other parts of the machine. ``But if the magnet is not right, you're dead in the water.''

It was the kind of scientific testimony that was expected to dominate this case before LeMond's blockbuster appearance. That appearance has worked in favor of USADA attorneys, who have added the character issue to their scientific evidence.

``You knew it would shatter your credibility if it came out that Geoghegan made the call?'' Barnett asked Landis, trying to prove he was hoping his manager would get away with the call to LeMond.

``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.''
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