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Landis Doping Hearing Takes Twist

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

There was startling testimony yesterday at the doping hearing for Floyd Landis. Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond was called to testify. He ended up telling a jaw-dropping story that included damning information about Floyd Landis and what appears to be a case of attempted witness intimidation. The hearing is at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Three arbitrators will decide if Floyd Landis knowingly used banned drugs when he won the Tour de France last year.

NPR's Tom Goldman joins us, and Tom, you were at the hearing earlier this week, and things were going pretty slowly at the time, but it sounds like everything changed yesterday.

TOM GOLDMAN: Yes, it did. It changed with some riveting human drama. The prosecution invited Greg LeMond to testify about a phone conversation he had with Floyd Landis last August after the first reports that Landis had an abnormal drug test result at the Tour de France. Now, in that conversation LeMond said he told Landis he didn't know whether Landis actually doped, but if he did, he should be truthful about it, come clean. And yesterday at the hearing, here's what LeMond said Landis's response was.

Mr. GREG LeMOND (Former Tour de France Champion): He said what good would it do? He said, if I did it, it would probably destroy a lot of my friends and hurt a lot of people.

GOLDMAN: Now, obviously what's striking about that, Renee, is that Floyd Landis didn't respond by saying, Greg, I didn't take drugs, why should I have to come clean? Publicly, Floyd Landis has denied using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

MONTAGNE: And I understand, in telling the story of that phone conversation, Greg LeMond also revealed something intensely personal.

GOLDMAN: He told Floyd that he, Greg LeMond, had been sexually abused as a child and had kept it secret for many years. Now, LeMond said keeping it hidden almost destroyed him and that he didn't want Landis to suffer, if Landis had a secret about doping. In subsequent days, LeMond said he was upset to read a posting on an Internet message board that LeMond says Floyd Landis admitted writing. Here's LeMond reading a transcript yesterday of part of that message written by Landis about Greg LeMond.

Mr. LeMOND: If he ever opens his mouth again and the word Floyd comes out, I will tell you all some things that you will wish you didn't know, and unfortunately I will have entered the race to bottom, which is now in progress.

MONTAGNE: And that Internet posting sounds a bit threatening, I guess. Did anything ever come of it?

GOLDMAN: Well - now, here's where yesterday got really weird, Renee. LeMond testified that Wednesday night he got a phone call from a man who said he'd also be at the hearing Thursday and that he would reveal LeMond's story of sexual abuse. LeMond felt it was someone trying to intimidate him. He filed a police report, and the call was traced back to the phone of a person named Will Geoghegan, Floyd Landis's business manager.

Now, Geoghegan has been sitting behind the Landis defense table each day at the hearing, he is a member of the inner circle, but after LeMond's testimony, Landis's lawyer announced that Geoghegan had been fired as Landis's business manager as of right now, the lawyer said. LeMond also told reporters that Geoghegan admitted to him that he made the call and that he apologized.

MONTAGNE: Tom, with all this dramatic testimony, what is, if any, the impact on this case?

GOLDMAN: It's definitely a bad day for the Landis side. Not just the bombshells, but Landis's lawyers never got to cross-examine LeMond. They asked him a bunch of questions that he refused to answer, and the result of that stalemate was that arbitrators ended LeMond's testimony early and excused him. Landis's lawyer moved to strike all of LeMond's testimony, which arbitrators reportedly will consider later. That lawyer for Landis was so frustrated, he called the hearing a farce.

MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much him.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

MONTAGNE: NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Tom Goldman
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.