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|Will Geoghegan, right, attempts to apologize to Greg LeMond, center, and his wife after the three-time Tour champ gave his testimony.|
|Greg LeMond hands over his BlackBerry to USADA attorney Matt Barnett during his testimony.|
The agency's lawyers, like Landis' attorneys, are barred from public comment during the case. Perhaps after months of restraining themselves from responding to Landis' campaign, USADA officials didn't mind throwing some public relations pasta of their own against the wall and seeing what stuck. At this point, it's not even certain that any of LeMond's testimony will be allowed into evidence. Howard Jacobs, who has defended numerous athletes against doping charges, dived quickly into the Armstrong material on cross-examination, making reference to LeMond's testimony in a civil case Armstrong brought against a Dallas-based insurance company that withheld a promised bonus because of doping rumors about him. Armstrong won that case, but LeMond's deposition, later leaked to the press, contained more detail on the bad blood, charges and countercharges between the two men. LeMond was ready for that line of questioning and brought his personal attorney, Bruce Manning, with him. Manning advised LeMond not to testify about the old civil case. Jacobs objected, saying he was laying a foundation for LeMond's motive to defame more recent Tour winners.
Heated discussion ensued, and the arbitrators finally asked for written briefs from both sides so they can rule on the issue later. "I will say that I will not answer anything about Lance Armstrong," LeMond blurted out at one point, without being formally asked. "This is about cycling and about Floyd Landis." It couldn't be lost on anyone that Armstrong's presence has been hovering over this proceeding even before it began. Last week, Landis told reporters USADA offered him a deal if he could offer any "incriminating" evidence against his former boss.
The real losers Thursday were American cycling fans who have watched these three men do parade laps in Paris with the U.S. flag in hand 11 times since 1986. LeMond, Armstrong and Landis continue to be enmeshed in a dense and venom-laced web. The race to the bottom, as Landis put it, seems as vehemently contested as the 2,000-mile race that will forever link them. Bonnie DeSimone is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.