Courtroom Twists Muffle Landis' Doping Denials

Still, the matter of whether any of LeMond's testimony will be entered into evidence remains in limbo. It's not certain the arbitrators will rule on the issue before this portion of the hearing closes Wednesday. The panel has decided to hear closing arguments at a time and place to be decided. The final decision will likely follow three to four weeks after that.

Geoghegan-gate is also arguably the least damaging part of LeMond's testimony where the question of Landis' alleged testosterone use -- remember that? -- is concerned. Landis also addressed the supposed implicit admission of guilt he made to LeMond in a phone conversation last August, telling an entirely different version.

"I told him I didn't do it, and it wouldn't make any sense to admit to something I wouldn't do,'' Landis said.

Having Landis dissect l'affaire LeMond first, before doing it under hostile questioning from USADA's lawyers, is an understandable tactical move. But every minute spent on it is precious time hijacked from Landis' mission to present himself as a convincing witness to the panel, and a wronged athlete to the public.

There has been much testimony about "background noise" in this case. The phrase is a technical term for interference that clouds chromatograms, the graphic representations of test results generated by mass spectrometry and the map that enables scientists to determine whether synthetic testosterone was present in an athlete's system.

Every bit of non-scientific background noise in the Landis hearings, including witnesses LeMond and confessed doper Joe Papp, distracts from the real issue, which is whether or not the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory's tests were properly performed and the results valid.

That was illustrated when Dr. Don Catlin, former director of the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab at UCLA and one of the most respected professionals in the field, summarized in one concise sentence Saturday what it took Papp a tortured couple of hours to relate the day before. "In my opinion, low-dose testosterone would enhance recovery from major exercise," Catlin said.

The occasionally deafening background noise generated by the LeMond subplot also hurts Landis' efforts to salvage what's left of his reputation, which he noted has been irreparably harmed no matter how the arbitrators rule.

"It has changed everything," Landis said. "I think that's clear. It's consumed my entire life. It's forever connected to me. Anytime the Tour comes up, or bicycle racing comes up, that will be the subject. I can't imagine how it would change."

His mother Arlene, wearing her hair in a bun covered by the traditional Mennonite bonnet, watched quietly from the front row as her son testified. Earlier in the day, she stopped by the press room and acknowledged she was nervous.

"I'm praying as hard as I ever have in my life," Arlene Landis said, managing a small smile. "It's about the truth."

This lovely, dignified woman might have been the most optimistic person in the courtroom.

Bonnie DeSimone is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

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