Floyd Landis has been put through the ringer over the past few years. Not only did he have to deal with a very public and drawn out trial for doping at the 2006 Tour de France, which he lost, but he also had to deal with a hip replacement and lengthy rehab process. Making his return to professional racing with the OUCH team at this past year's Tour of California, Landis was listed as one of the favorites of the nine day event.
Landis went on to finish 23rd overall in the American stage race after experiencing various mechanical and physical issues. And as the season has dragged on, Landis has had little to show in the way of individual results throughout the year. In his most recent race at the Tour of Utah this past week, Landis managed only 24th overall, more than 15 minutes behind the winner of the race, Francesco Mancebo.
That Landis is even back as a professional is remarkable, especially considering his hip replacement. But the time has come to stop mentioning him as a favorite for any race until he demonstrates that he is back to the top level of the sport, if only domestically. Now that he has a year under his belt it wouldn't be a surprise to see Landis begin to perform better at select races in the future. In fact, after participating in the grueling Tour of Utah, perhaps Landis will be able to net a top 20 at this week's upcoming US Pro Championships in Greenville, South Carolina.
Because he isn't getting the same results that he did before his suspension, Landis is now having to endure writers asserting that he must have doped back in 2006 when he won the Tour. It is true that his results aren't even close to those he garnered in his first go around as a pro, and it is looking more and more like he was doped at the Tour in 2006, but it is too early to judge him on his current performance. Give him another few months and if at the end of 2010 he is still an also-ran, then will be the time to label him a cheat and a liar once and for all. It should also be noted that Landis won't give up easy. He'll be as determined as ever to show that he can still ride with the best. Until that happens though he'll have to put up with whispers about his checkered past as a liar and a drug cheat.