Statement Analysis®

Floyd Landis Doping Scandal

In 2006, American cyclist Floyd Landis won bicycling's most prestigious race the Tour de France. The race lasts three weeks and is broken down into segments called stages. The winner is determined by totaling the time it takes to complete all of the stages.

During Stage 16, Landis lost ten minutes but suspiciously came back strong during Stage 17. At the end of Stage 17, he was given a urine test which tested positive for banned synthetic testosterone. Landis said he was innocent stating that he had high natural levels of testosterone.

The case went to arbitration and in September 2007, the doping accusation was upheld. The International Cycling Union then stripped Landis of his 2006 Tour de France title. Landis maintained his innocence even writing a book called Positively False.

In May 2010, Landis admitted to doping for much of his racing career. He told "I want to clear my conscience. I don't want to be part of the problem any more."

I did not follow this case back in 2006. However, now that Landis has admitted to doping, let's look back at some of his statements and denials to see exactly what he was saying and what he was not saying when he was accused of doping.

On July 27, 2006, Landis gave a press conference form Madrid, Spain. Here are some excerpts from that press conference.

"I would like to make it absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process."

The verb tense that Landis chose to use is in the present tense; "I am not in any doping process." At the time of his press conference, he may not have been doping. However, his denial does not account for the time period leading up to the race and during the race.

"I declare convincingly and categorically that my winning the Tour de France has been exclusively due to many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling."

I have been finding that when people use the phrase "I categorically deny" they are usually guilty of something. In some cases where the press is looking over every aspect of a person's life, there may be some piece of information that was printed that was not entirely true. The person under suspicion will cling to that one false assertion and use that to state he categorically denies the charges. Although Landis did not use that exact phrase, he did use the word "categorically."

"I ask first that the case not be treated directly as a doping case. Second, I'll undergo all the tests to show that the levels were natural. Until such research is carried out, I ask not to be judged or sentenced."

Landis maintains that his high levels are a natural occurrence. Therefore, he does not want this case to be treated as a doping case. In retrospect, we can now see why he did not want this case to be treated as a doping case.

During a question and answer period we find the following:

Question: Have you ever taken performance-enhancing drugs before?

Landis: I will say no. The problem I have here is that most of the public has an idea about cycling because of the way things have gone in the past, so I will say no knowing that a lot of people are going to say that I am guilty before I have had a chance to defend myself. There you have it.

Landis denies taking performance-enhancing drugs with a "no." However, he appears not to be fully committed to his answer because twice he prefaces his answer with "I will say." Even though he believes people may feel he is guilty, if he did not do it he should be answering with just "no." Speaking in the future tense is not a strong denial.

Question: We were over with your mom today in Farmersville and she said that you called her and said that you had done nothing wrong, so a very pointed, forward question here. Would you ever lie to your mom?

Landis: You've met my mom. I don't think anyone has ever lied to my mom.

Landis gives an answer but he does not answer the specific question "Would you ever lie to your mom?" By saying that he does not think anyone has ever lied to his mother, he is hoping everyone will assume that he has not lied to her. However, we do not assume but we only believe what people tell us. Landis has not told us that he did not lie to his mother. Since he did not answer the specific question, he is withholding information. Now that he has admitted to doping, we can see why he did not answer this question.

On that same day, Landis was interviewed by Michele Norris on NPR's All Things Considered.

Norris: So if it comes back, [that his second sample tests positive] do you just handover that bowl, handover that jersey, or do you plan to fight this -

Landis: No, I plan to -

Norris: - all the way to arbitration court?

Landis: No, I plan at the same time that I request the B sample to ask for an endocrinological review of my body to prove that there are times during the day or at some points that if I were tested I would be shown to be out of the 4:1 ration, albeit from a natural cause. Explaining that, I can't. I'm waiting for the experts to do that.

Norris: A natural cause. What might that be?

Landis: Like I said, I have no idea. That's why I have experts working on it.

Landis insists there is a natural cause for his body to have high levels of testosterone. When asked what that might be, he replied "I have no idea." It is rare when a person can honestly say "I have no idea" or "I have no clue." Most people have an idea on just about everything. Their idea may not be correct but they do have an idea. When a person states he has no idea it is a sign he is withholding information and being deceptive.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Austin Murphy also interviewed Landis on July 27, 2006. Murphy asked Landis "Did you do it, bro?" Landis responded, "No, c'mon man."

Although Landis answers with a "no" he adds the phrase "c'mon man." It is as if he is saying "No, come on man, you know me." This is similar to when a person uses the phrase "of course" as in "No, of course not." When people use the phrases "of course" or "come on man" they usually want us to take their answer for granted. In their mind, we should know what the answer is. Again, we only believe what people tell us. If Landis said, "No" we can believe he did not do it. When he says, "No, c'mon man" we can believe he is not telling us "no." He just wants us to take it for granted that he did not do it.

It took almost four years for Floyd Landis to admit that he was doping. The International Cycling Union knew in 2006 he was doping because he tested positive for banned synthetic testosterone. Anyone who was listening to what Landis was saying would also have known he was doping because of his deceptive language.

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