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So, Floyd Landis is having his trial to decide if he will keep his title as the winner of the 2006 Tour de France. He is defending himself against allegations that he took testoterone during the Tour, allegations he repeatedly denies. This is the first time that an athlete has requested a public hearing. You can see live feed from the courtroom at floydlandis.com, or you can follow the story at “trust but verify“, a blog site dedicated to the situation.
We were at the Tour last year, making reportage drawings of the final leg on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. I was drawing with my friend and fellow Studio 1482 member Margaret Hurst. We waited HOURS for the Tour to come by. It was hot, very hot, and the street was packed with people from all over the world. We met a lovely English couple, the woman even volunteered to get us coffee from McDonalds while we waited – how nice!
When the Tour finally rode down the Champs-Elysees, the bicycles went by in a flash. It was a challenge to draw all those bicycles and all that excitement in the blink of an eye – what a blast! The crowd was screaming!! I wanted to capture the movement and energy of the riders in the drawing, and I love the way it played off the stately architecture of Paris. The combination of new energy and old haughtiness feels very French to me.
It was funny, when they announced over the loudspeakers that Floyd Landis, an American, had won the Tour, you could have heard a pin drop. It was that quiet. (I think I heard someone cough in the Louvre!) I don’t know, maybe the Europeans were sick of the Americans winning, after all, we had Lance Armstrong on our team for so many years. But still…when they played the Star Spangled Banner, Margaret was singing at the top of her lungs, mainly because the crowd didn’t cheer enough for Floyd. I agreed with her!
It will be interesting to see how the trial plays out. Floyd Landis is not the only one on trial, the World Anti-Doping Agency is as well. So is the entire professional sports industry – what kind of a thing is that when there is so much pressure to perform that the athletes are tempted to take steroids? Is that really the spirit of sportsmanship?
Personally I believe that Landis is innocent. We’ll see what the courts say. Either way, the experience of drawing the Tour was a once in a lifetime event.
Portrait of Floyd Landis, disputed winner of the 2006 Tour de France.