MALIBU, Calif. -- The $20,000 charter flights. The
$250-a-night hotel rooms. Those attorney fees piling up at $300,
$400 an hour.
Keep adding it up, day after day, and it's easy to see how the
cost of the Floyd Landis arbitration case could reach $1 million or
In fact, before the arbitration began, Landis' spokesman Michael
Henson estimated the cost of defending the Tour de France champion
could reach $2 million once it winds its way through this hearing
and another appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
With two days left in the hearing -- Landis was scheduled to be
cross-examined Tuesday -- the bills were adding up, as predicted.
Take, for example, the $20,000 charter flight the Landis team
sprung for to bring expert Dr. Wolfram Meier-Augenstein to
California. That was on top of commercial fares that got him from
Ireland to Canada, and the nearly $1,500-a-day fee -- "standard
university rate," he called it -- he makes for his time.
At least he was memorable.
"I'm terribly sorry, but if someone's life depends on it, his
career depends on it, you don't go on assumptions," said
Meier-Augenstein during nearly six hours of compelling testimony
Monday, one of the best days of the hearing for Landis thus far.
Last week, when Landis attorneys began cross-examination of
witnesses for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the first question they
asked each witness was how much money USADA was paying them to be
Cedric Shackleton testified he was getting about $200 an hour
for a total of $1,800. That didn't include the expenses for his
trip from the San Francisco area. Cornell professor J. Thomas
Brenna said he was getting $125 an hour for around 100 hours of
work "including the trip to Paris."
USADA also brought in no fewer than four witnesses from France.
A typical airfare from Paris to Los Angeles, with 30 days' notice,
was selling for $1,100 on Expedia on Monday night. Those witnesses
spent four or five nights in Los Angeles while they testified or
waited to testify. One hotel in Santa Monica where a few
participants were staying cost $230 a night before tax and parking.
Other hotels in the area were even more expensive.
Even though Landis wasn't on the U.S. Olympic team when his
positive doping test was reported, his case was referred to the
U.S. Olympic Committee, which pays a small part of the bill for the
arbitration. Among that part of the tab are the expenses and
billable hours for the arbitrators and their assistant; a
public-relations coordinator and media setup for this, the first
public arbitration hearing in the history of the current system;
rent for the space at Pepperdine. (Some at the school originally
balked at the idea of taking on such a big logistical challenge,
but the dean of the law school, Kenneth Starr, insisted Pepperdine
accept an offer to be the host.)
USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel approximated the federation's
expenses at about $35,000, and guessed that figure was dwarfed by
the costs USADA was footing. USADA, of course, gets its budget of
around $12 million a year from the USOC and the federal government.
"The rising cost of these proceedings is a concern and will
need to be examined in the future," Seibel said.
USADA general counsel Travis Tygart couldn't comment on aspects
of the case while it was still ongoing, though it's not too
difficult to put some figures on the agency's cost.
USADA is represented by lawyers from the Denver-based Holme,
Roberts and Owen law firm. Top lawyers at Denver firms can bill
$400 an hour or more, and though the firm likely gives USADA some
kind of break, it also wouldn't be a stretch for the four-lawyer
team working the case to cost up to $10,000 per day.
That, of course, doesn't count the billable hours they worked to
prepare for the nine-day hearing.
Landis' attorneys don't come cheap either.
Howard Jacobs is one of the best-known attorneys in cases like
these. Maurice Suh is the former deputy mayor of homeland security
and public safety in Los Angeles. Before that, he won "prosecutor
of the year" at the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles. Last
year, he joined the firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher in Los
Angeles as a partner.
Henson said the Floyd Fairness Fund, which is bankrolling much
of Landis' defense, had raised about $750,000. Much of it came $35
at a time from cycling fans who came to one of Landis' appearances
on his barnstorming tour around the country.