Whoops! Larry King Forgets to Ask Landis 'Did You Cheat?'
Imagine you're Larry King. You've landed the first interview with Floyd Landis, the winner of the Tour de France with a great feel-good story - until he flunked a drug test.
What would be the first question you'd ask? OK, this is Larry King. Not known as the 'king' of the hardball, so to speak. So grant Larry a few warm-up questions to put Floyd at ease. But eventually, at some point, as painful as it might be, DON'T YOU HAVE TO ASK LANDIS IF HE CHEATED?? I mean, what the heck else is the purpose of the interview?
But along with millions of others [OK, Larry's ratings haven't been that great in recent years. Let's say 'thousands of others'] I waited in vain for a question that never came. Larry King never asked Floyd Landis if he took performance-enhancing drugs that accounted for the high testosterone ratio levels the post-race test detected.
For the record, here's what Larry asked to open the show:
- Was all this, Floyd, a shock to you?
- Tell me about the testing process.
- Have you ever had a problem like this in your career?
- Your defense is that there were naturally high levels of testosterone in the test. What can cause that?
- Why did [your team] suspend you?
- What does testosterone do in the body that makes someone a better racer?So you So
- So you have not been told what effect testosterone has pro or con on someone being a good racer?
- Do you think part of it might be the fact that the comeback [rom a very bad off day during the race] was so amazing that people didn't believe it was possible
- Did you think you could come back?
Eventually, almost a half-hour into the show, Larry let someone else do the heavy lifting for him, flashing a viewer question asking Landis whether he had ever taken a banned substance. In contrast with Landis' halting, equivocal denial in response to a similar question that had recently been posed to him, this time Floyd promptly and flatly denied he had ever broken the rules.
I was rooting for Landis during the Tour and I'm rooting for him to be exonerated now. I was thrilled at the prospect of a person with his family background becoming a different kind of American sports hero in the age of Barry Bonds, Mark 'Let's Not Talk About the Past' McGuire, and others. But for Larry King not to have posed the obvious, necessary question right out of the box was nothing short of journalistic malpractice.