Cross-examination focuses on manager, LeMond testimony

Updated: May 23, 2007, 1:13 AM ET
Associated Press

MALIBU, Calif. -- Part science, part circus, the Floyd Landis hearing gyrated through more tawdry testimony Tuesday, with questions about testosterone, telephone calls and neckties filling the Tour de France champion's stay on the witness stand.

Attorneys used Landis' cross-examination to portray him as someone who hangs with the wrong crowd and would do anything to win his case, including 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.

Floyd Landis
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty ImagesUSADA lawyers cross-examined Landis about everything from the color of his tie to the timing of his decision to fire his manager.

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."

DeSimone: Landis grilled

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency grilled Floyd Landis during cross-examination Tuesday. And while lawyers never directly asked Landis if he doped, they made the cyclist's credibility a major issue, writes Bonnie DeSimone. Story

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. Arbitrators weren't sure closing arguments would take place Wednesday, as they had hoped.

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."

Barnett closed his cross-examination 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.

"This is about doing what it takes to win," Geoghegan told a crowd at a recent fundraising rally, as reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

And Landis: "You don't want to be the one fighting the crazy guy with nothing to lose," he's quoted as saying in Bicycling Magazine.

Barnett asked Landis if that was, indeed, what he told the magazine reporter.

"Correct," Landis said. "You've never heard that saying?"

Everyone in the courtroom laughed, though from the look on his face, it wasn't quite clear if Landis was trying to be funny.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press