Sports public has become too cynical to buy Landis’ snake oil

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10, 2006.

When Rian, my 4-year-old niece, asked the question, I had to search for a quick answer.

&#8220Uncle Murph,” she said, &#8220Why do you have two chins?”.

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Well, I tried to tell her, I, um, err.

Then Floyd Landis’ picture appeared in my head. The Tour de France &#8220winner” had more excuses for his positive test for high levels of testosterone than stages in the tour.

His last, though, that was the one.

&#8220Well, Rian, you see I accidentally ingested a few Krispy Kremes on the way to see you and the effects of that are a higher level of fatosterone. That’s why it appears that I have more than one chin.”

I continued that the accidental ingestion of a double Whopper caused the higher levels of fatosterone on my legs.

&#8220No, you’re lying,” she said.

And, yes, I was.

And so was Landis.

His story sounded good, though, especially for a sixth defense of a victory that captured America’s heart.

Here’s a guy no one had ever heard of before the tour. He rode in the shadow of American Lance Armstrong. He had a degenerative hip disorder.

What a great story.

But until the 17th stage, it wasn’t a story at all. Landis was stuck in the pack with little chance of taking the coveted championship.

Then he rode the 17th stage as if he were on a Harley-Davidson. He shot past the field deftly, vaulting himself right back into contention.

A couple days later, he cruised through the Champs-Elysees in Paris like Armstrong had done for the past seven years.

A doping test later showed that Landis’ testosterone level spiked beyond belief after his test on the 17th stage.

The excuses began en masse.

The mysterious cream caused the spike in the test.

It’s just a natural thing with Landis’ body.

Maybe I unknowingly ingested something.

Each time Landis makes an appearance with the excuse du jour, his story begins to unravel a little more.

The thing is, Floyd, is that the sports public has become too cynical to buy any of your nonsense. We watched one of our own, Rafael Palmeiro, look America in the eye and deny his steroid use, until it was revealed that he tested positive.

Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have ruined our faith in athletes. And now we can add Floyd Landis to the ever-growing group.

Bonds denies his steroid use, McGwire won’t talk about the past and Sosa is trying to get back into the game. None of them will be looked at the same way. There will always be a cloud hanging over them.

Every excuse Landis delivers makes each set of eyebrows rise a little more.

I couldn’t fool a 4-year-old into believing I ingested a second chin, and Landis can’t fool us.

Not anymore.