Floyd Landis Longing for a Simpler Day

Tuesday, October 3rd 2006, 6:30 am
By: News On 6

After two trying months marked by doping allegations, an assault on his reputation and his father-in-law's suicide, Floyd Landis doesn't wish for a stirring comeback so much as the simpler things in life.

At this point, he'll take a good night's sleep, free of pain.

To reach that goal, Landis had hip-replacement surgery last week. With his rehab under way, the 30-year-old won't rule out a return to competitive cycling and the Tour de France. As much as resurrecting his career, though, he wants to feel good again.

``Things have been up and down for me,'' Landis said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. ``I'll be happy when it's a little more simple. I'll get through it though. I have a strong family. We're all being tested. Right now, this hip is something for me to focus on, something positive to focus on.''

He had endured three earlier operations on the right hip, injured in a 2003 training crash, to keep him competing over the years, including this summer's winning ride through France _ a victory derided by Tour officials after a positive doping test.

Soon, the pain became too much.

He underwent a state-of-the-art procedure, in which a metal cup was inserted into his damaged right hip socket and a metal cap was placed on top of a small stem that was inserted into the top of his thigh bone. The cap was then fit into the cup, and they combine to work as the new joint.

Sometime next week, Landis will begin riding the stationary bike _ the first major step in his rehabilitation process. In three weeks, he expects to be released to do anything he wants.

And in a year?

``We're moving forward with the idea that he will be back and be competitive,'' said Landis' personal physician, Brent Kay.

Landis looks at the bigger picture.

``A year from now, I see myself as the same human being I am now,'' he said. ``I care about other people. I love my family. I'd like to race my bicycle again.

``I know how I did it,'' Landis said of his Tour win. ``I did it clean. The accusations against me are unfounded. I hope the world gets to see that. But I'm going to remain myself no matter what, and that's the most important thing.''

During this forced sabbatical, Landis spends a good deal of time working on his defense for his doping case, which is coming up in the next few months. His legal team is expected to argue that the tests that found an abnormal epitestosterone-to-testosterone ratio are faulty.

Landis' attorney, Howard Jacobs, wants the arbitration hearing to be made public, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will prosecute the case, has said it will agree.

Landis said he thinks a public hearing will be his best chance to have his side heard. He said officials at the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency have prosecuted his case in the press.

He blames the UCI for the cycling's public-relations problems and says many who run the federation only want to stay in the good graces of the International Olympic Committee in hopes of advancing their careers there.

``I'm not hopeful this sport can be fixed as long as UCI is running it. That's all I can say,'' Landis said.

He did not, however, lump USADA with those he believes have tarnished his reputation and that of his sport.

``Apart from my side, USADA has been the one group that has followed the rules, done everything properly,'' he said.

It gives him hope that he'll get a fair hearing in front of an arbitration panel. His reputation, to say nothing of his Tour de France title, hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, he continues his rehab with the hope that a victory in the case could lead to other victories, and maybe another winning ride down the Champs-Elysees.

``Hopefully, my career will go on, and I'm going to do my best to get there,'' Landis said. ``But obviously, there are more important things.''