More Landis test result rumors

Someone at the International Cycling Union who has seen the results of tests on Landis's A Sample says that some of the testosterone was synthetic, not produced by his body. If true, it's another tragic setback for cycling in trying to regain its reputation as a sport with a level playing field, though in a practical sense that may be years and years away.

[That's not to excuse this French lab, which always seems to leak results through the press. That lab's inability to release information according to official procedures contributes to cycling's tarnished reputation.]

Knowing some of what professional cyclists go through to reach the pinnacle of their sport, though, the sport seems a long way from natural to me, even without banned substances. Cyclists sleep in altitude tents, test the aerodynamic qualities of their bodies and bikes in wind tunnels, tap the latest advances in material science to increase the stiffness and shave the weight of their bike frames, monitor their power output and heart rates with computers, and consume all sorts of strange supplements whose chemistry requires a PhD to understand.

We're a long way from the days of Jacque Anquetil, pulling an all-nighter the night before a race to drink whiskey and play cards. Anquetil, though, was up front about the fact that he took drugs. He was also a fantastic talent, a courageous cyclist. Landis, whether he took illegal substances or not, is a talented, hard-working cyclist. But we want heroes and villains, cloaked entirely in white or black, rather than people exhibiting shades of gray.

Sidenote: The phrasing of the positive drug tests for Gatlin and Landis should be changed. Saying that a male athlete tested positive for testosterone sounds odd.