Thursday, May 17, 2007
Updated: May 18, 3:46 PM ET
LeMond says he was threatened not to testify
ESPN.com news services
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 a threat to keep LeMond from testifying.
Landis' manager, Will Geoghegan, was fired when it became apparent he had made the the call, and he apologized to LeMond and Landis on Friday.
It was a shock, not only because of the content of the three-time Tour de France winner's much-awaited appearance but also because of the contrast between his testimony and three days of scientific nitpicking.
During his short, explosive 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 and 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 ...,'" LeMond said, finishing his sentence with a graphic sexual description. "I thought this was
intimidation to keep me from coming here."
He said he was so distraught by the call that 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.
After the break, Landis attorney Maurice Suh said in court that Geoghegan was fired.
LeMond 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.
"I just have to say, again, this is completely unfair," Jacobs said.
But LeMond didn't think that was the main point.
"I think they didn't want me coming here today," LeMond said. "I don't know why. If you didn't do anything wrong, why would you mind me coming here today?"
As the parties were leaving the room, LeMond confronted Geoghegan, though the two did not exchange blows.
"It was a real threat, it was real creepy, and I think it shows the extent of who it is," LeMond said before leaving the Pepperdine law school. "I think there's another side of Floyd that the public hasn't seen."
On Friday morning, Geoghegan released a public statement
"I have been very angry about how unfair this whole proceeding
is to Floyd, a great friend and a greater champion, and stupidly
tried to take out my anger on Greg," Geoghegan said. "I acted on
my own, impulsively, after a beer or two. I never thought about
keeping Greg from testifying."
LeMond insisted he appeared only to help cycling, a sport he thinks has been ruined by an unabated culture of doping. His appearance at Pepperdine, however, made the sport look every bit the unseemly circus he's been trying to fix all these years. Still, he had no remorse.
"What I felt was right was to come here and tell the truth," he said as he walked to his car. "People say it's the message that hurts this sport, but it's not that. It's cheating that hurts this sport, and that's all I have to say."
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.
Reporting from ESPN.com contributor Bonnie DeSimone and information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
apologizes for threat
|Statement released Friday by Will Geoghegan, former manager for Floyd Landis who acknowledged making a threatening phone call to Greg LeMond the night before his testimony at the Landis arbitration hearing:
"I apologize to Greg LeMond and his family for the distress I caused by my call. I also apologize to the arbitration panel and to Floyd Landis and his legal team for the distraction. I have been very angry about how unfair this whole proceeding is to Floyd, a great friend and a greater champion, and stupidly tried to take out my anger on Greg. I acted on my own, impulsively, after a beer or two. I never thought about keeping Greg from testifying. If I had, I would have concluded that since Greg is such a fierce competitor my stunt would likely make him more resolved to testify. What I did was wrong and very unfair to Greg. I am very sorry about and embarrassed by my conduct."