Cycling in crisis

Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis, holds a press conference in a Madrid hotel after he tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone, on July 28, 2006.

TEXT OF INTERVIEWSCOTT JAGOW: Today in Malibu California, day five of a hearing for Floyd Landis. Landis is the American who won the Tour de France last year, but he tested positive for doping and could be stripped of his title and suspended for two years. Our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad says the sport of cycling is truly in crisis.

DIANA NYAD: You know, people have used the word crisis about baseball because of the Bonds issue, you know maybe breaking Aaron's record, you know and being tainted with doping, but it's a blip on the radar screen, the issue of doping in baseball compared to cycling. This is truly a crisis. I mean the whole sport is crumbling.

JAGOW: Specifically where is the fallout?

NYAD: Well look at the Tour de France. It's not just one of the biggest events in Europe, you know, for the summer. It's become, because of Lance Armstrong really, it's become one of the biggest events in the world and now they're less than two months away and their major sponsors are nowhere. Credit-Lyonnais, which is the big French bank chain, it's always been part of the Tour de France, they're not sure. Their boardrooms are still filled with this discussion. Landis is on trial right now. Two other stars who were supposed to inherit the Tour de France after Armstrong retired — which is Jan Ullrich from Germany and Ivan Basso from Italy — both charged with doping now, not allowed to ride last year, can't ride this year . . .

JAGOW: Wow.

NYAD: A hundred riders out of the 600, there are allegations and blood samples and evidently pretty good evidence that they've all been doping. I mean, it's not just a couple.

JAGOW: I mean it sounds like the entire sport, maybe I'm exaggerating here, but is based on this, on this idea of one-upping through doping.

NYAD: You know years ago, right after the 1999 Tour, I got a chance to interview two guys, French riders, and they would only give the interview under anonymity, but they said, 'Look, you know the way we look at it is, there are a bunch of guys in navy blue suits in some boardroom somewhere who make up the rules of sport. Well they don't know what we're doing. We're in the age of chemical manipulation. You go out and get your juice and your coffee every day and you get a little boost of immunity added in or you want to help your sex life or your memory. You can do anything you want with your body so why can't we? Taking these drugs doesn't make us a different athlete, it just raises our potential to 100 percent.' And that's the way they've twisted it in their minds.

JAGOW: But their sport is falling apart because of it so there's got to be a turnaround here if they want to keep cycling and making the kind of money they've been making.

NYAD: Well you know what, who's going to turn it around is the science. I mean look at this Floyd Landis case, What we are going to hear for the next, oh, 10 days or so, is science. It's just all of the blood chemistry is coming out and I think that testing is going to become so vigilant, they are really hell-bent on cleaning this thing up and I think it's going to be a few years until we rebuild and find some new heroes that we can trust in and find the beauty of the sport again.

JAGOW: Alright Diana, thanks.

NYAD: Scott, you're welcome.

JAGOW: Our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad.

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