Floyd Landis and the Tour de France Doping Scandal
by Robert Ferringo - 07/28/2006
The first time I saw Floyd Landis I thought, "What is Marcel Luske doing on a bike?" But that wasn't the eccentric pro poker player on a bicycle; it was just your run-of-the-mill Pennsylvania Mennonite who was able to overcome a degenerative hip condition to stage the biggest comeback in Tour de France history.
Landis' record-breaking run made for a pretty good story. But the only thing longer than the ascent to the top of the mountain is the tumble back to the bottom.
It has been widely reported that Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the Tour de France. He has been suspended by his sponsor team, Phonak, after they were notified on Wednesday that there was something "unusual" about Landis' blood sample following Stage 17 last Thursday.
There is a possibility that Landis could become the first rider in the 103-year history of the Tour to be stripped of his title. That decision would mean a lifetime of pain and shame for Landis, but what would it mean for bettors that had wagered on him?
According to unnamed bookmakers at Bodog, the online gaming site would pay out on both Landis and Oscar Pereiro, the Frenchman that finished 57 seconds behind Landis.
"We handle these on a case-by-case basis," said a Bodog bookmaker of the Floyd Landis Tour de France doping scandal. "We always, however, look to give the fairest decision to our clients, as sometimes it is such a random situation that it cannot be included in the wager rules. In a case like this, Bodog would be happy to pay out wins on both cyclists."
Before the race started, Landis was a 14-to-1 long shot to win the yellow jersey. Pereiro was posted as a 66-to-1 underdog entering the month-long event.
The source said he recalled a recent Formula One win that was stripped because of a tire violation by the driver. Again, in these situation Bodog takes a more customer-service oriented approach.
However, it also helps that there isn't a large handle when it comes to cycling. Imagine if the Florida Gators had to forfeit the NCAA Championship four days after they won it because of some recruiting violation.
This Floyd Landis doping scandal isn't the only one that cast a pall over this year's event. Just prior to the start of the race, favorites Jan Ullrich (9-to-4) and Ivan Basso (Even) were disqualified because they had been implicated in a doping investigation in Spain. Neither had tested positive for anything illegal.
Landis' situation isn't helping cycling's already tenuous popularity in the United States. It's been difficult enough to forge an identity in the post-Lance Armstrong Era. But now, no matter how the pending investigation turns out, the niche sport is going to be pushed even further down the totem pole for online bettors.
"Since Lance left, betting on a major cycling event can definitely be a 'roll of the dice,'" a Bodog bookmaker said. "With Basso and Ullrich canned early on and now a post-win doping scandal, it's going to be tough for cycling to gain momentum as a bettor's sport.
"If you like to gamble, however, this is a sport that can produce some huge payouts."
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at email@example.com or check out his Insider Page here.