MALIBU, Calif. – The Floyd Landis hearing took a chaotic twist Thursday when fellow American Tour de France champion Greg LeMond revealed he had been sexually abused as a child and claimed the Landis camp tried to use it as blackmail to keep LeMond from testifying.
It was a shock, not only because of the content of the three-time Tour de France winner's much-awaited appearance, but because of the contrast between his testimony and three days of scientific nitpicking.
During his short bit of testimony, LeMond told of a conversation he had with Landis after news of Landis' positive "A" urine sample during his 2006 Tour victory had been leaked to the press.
LeMond urged Landis to come clean if, in fact, his backup "B" sample also came back tainted.
He said he encouraged Landis to help his sport and "more importantly, help himself."
"At this point, he said, 'I don't see anything that ... what good would it do? If I did, it would destroy a lot of my friends and hurt a lot of people,"' LeMond testified.
He said he used the story of his being sexually abused when he was 6 as an example of how it's good to get things out in the open.
"It nearly destroyed me by keeping the secret," LeMond said.
He said he told Landis that very few people knew that about him, then accused someone in the Landis camp of using that information Wednesday night to intimidate him from appearing as a witness.
LeMond described receiving a call that he said he later traced to the cell phone of Landis' manager, Will Geoghegan.
"He said, 'I'll be there tomorrow and we can talk about how we used to' perform a sexual act, LeMond said. "I thought this was intimidation to keep me from coming here."
He said he was so distraught by the call, he filed a police report, which was presented as evidence by attorneys. Malibu sheriff's officials, however, declined to release the report or details about it, saying the case was under investigation.
LeMond showed his cell phone screen with a record of the number from which he received the call. The number matched that on Geoghegan's business card.
That marked the end of LeMond's brief testimony.
He was then turned over for cross-examination, and when attorney Howard Jacobs asked him about statements he'd made in the past about Lance Armstrong — who LeMond has suggested has doped in winning the Tour — LeMond said he wouldn't answer those questions.
Procedural bickering ensued, and arbitrators called for a break to determine whether LeMond's testimony could be allowed. As the parties were leaving the room, LeMond confronted Geoghegan, though the two did not exchange blows.
Thus marked a most unexpected turn in what had been a turgid three days of testimony, most from French-speaking workers at the lab where Landis' urine was analyzed.
A three-man arbitration panel hearing the testimony will decide whether to uphold Landis' positive doping test after Stage 17 of last year's Tour. If it does, Landis could face a two-year ban from cycling and become the first person in the 104-year history of the Tour to have his title stripped for a doping offense.