Thursday, May 17, 2007

LeMond drops bomb on Landis hearing

By Mark Zalewski in Malibu

The continuation of the Floyd Landis arbitration took a turn into the surreal Wednesday afternoon when Greg LeMond, the first American to ever win the Tour de France, took the stand as a witness for the USADA. While the questions started out cursory regarding his involement with Mr. Landis, USADA's lawyer Mr. Barnett moved the questioning into the territory of the exchanges between Mr. Landis and Mr. LeMond following LeMond's public comments for Mr. Landis to come clean following the 2006 Tour.

In those conversations Mr. LeMond admitted to Landis a very personal story in what he said was "to encourage him to help the sport and to help himself." That story, which LeMond divulged publicly for the first time today, was that he was sexually abused as a child before he began cycling. "I shared it with him to show him what keeping a secret would do," said LeMond.

The reason why this story was brought into the testimony is because of events that seem to have transpired last night while LeMond was preparing to testify today. As he was returning to his hotel with his wife he said he received a phone call from a man claiming to be his uncle. Mr. LeMond said the caller said many things including, "I am your uncle and if you want me to finish this... We can talk about how we used to hide your weenie."

The USADA lawyer linked this to earlier statements made by Mr. Landis on an internet message board in which Mr. Landis implied that this story, which Mr. LeMond told him in private, would be divulged as apparent retribution for Mr. LeMond's public "slander." On the message board in questions Mr. Landis had allegedly posted a message saying, "If he ever opens up his mouth again and the word Floyd comes out I will tell you all some things you wish you didn't know and I will have entered the race to the bottom and is now in progress."

LeMond said that he called the local police last night and filed a police report. When he called the number back the voice mail referred to the name, "Will." LeMond believed that it was possibly Will Geoghegan, a close friend of Mr. Landis that is always at his side during official events.

Upon investigation by the police, the number that was used to call Mr. LeMond was identified as that of Mr. Geoghegan, and he was asked to stand and identify himself in the hearing room. Mr. Geoghegan stood from his chair behind Landis.

The hearing continued with Howard Jacobs cross-examining Mr. LeMond, and beginning to ask him about his earlier law suit against Lance Armstrong. At this point the USADA side objected and Mr. LeMond said he would not answer any questions involving Mr. Armstrong under advice from his personal counsel present in the room.

To this Mr. Jacobs responded that this would go towards motivation for Mr. LeMond - and that if he would not be allowed to ask questions along this line that all of Mr. LeMond's testimony be stricken from the record. At this point the panel adjourned to confer about the disputed testimony.

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