The excitement of Floyd Landis winning the Tour de France, keeping the yellow jersey in American hands the year after Lance Armstrong retired was quickly marred by reports that the cyclist had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Cycling fans around the country were quick to condemn Floyd's actions, despite his contention he never used banned substances.
While disturbed by the big picture of drugs in sports, I favored a "wait and see" attitude. Landis deserved at least the opportunity to prove his innocence, if he could. And after the situation involving accusations against Lance Armstrong, the World Anti Doping Agency and the French testing labs have tarnished images, as well.
Now, it appears the testing lab is admitting their process has failed, again. While the revelation that samples were mislabeled doesn't automatically exhonerate Landis, it certainly lends credence to the argument that administrative errors resulted in the wrong samples being tested. Incorrect labeling of a sample opens the door to the incorrect labeling of a Tour de France champion as a cheater.
And, once again, we are forced to consider the totality of the evidence. Landis had negative tests throughout the Tour de France, including negative tests after the supposed positives. His record is untarnished with the exception of this one set of samples. WADA and the testing lab have a string of improper accusations later reversed due to incorrect handling of samples or, worse yet, invalid analysis of those samples. In my world, past performance is at least a predictor of future performance.
Yes, Floyd Landis could have banned substances. Yes, he could have cheated. Then again, it is quite possible the testing facility screwed up. And now, the evidence is beginning to show the latter to be likely.
It appears that both Landis and the lab responsible for testing need just a bit more time to prove their cases. I'm still willing to wait. I'd rather they get it right than get it fast. Speed is better on the Tour than in the testing.