Personally I’m hoping that Landis and the Tour de France comes through this latest drug question in great shape. I’m pulling for almost any sport that provides an alternative to the big professional ones with their outrageous ticket prices. But so far, the crisis communications is pretty disappointing. Landis was on my local TV news last night. The anchor introduced his comments to another reporter by saying that Landis denied drug use but, she said, listen carefully and judge for yourself. Well, with that introduction she decided not to let us judge for ourselves. She made it clear with her words and her knowing smile what she thought of Landis’ answer.
Not that she was wrong. When asked directly if he had ever doped up he said something vague about it being an issue in the sport and then said “I’m going to say ‘no” to that.” Well, if you are going to deny something, for goodness sake deny it. Half hearted denials don’t go very far. Of course, if you did it, keep your mouth shut, stay away from the microphones, or come up with a much better key message dodge than that. Best thing is to stay away.
I see he has a news conference scheduled today. I’ll be eager to see if he does a better job of denying it or, if he did use illegal substances, I hope for the sake of the sport he admits, apologizes, commits to help clean up the sport, and graciously congratulate the real winner. Hmmm, I doubt it.
The news that the latest Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tested positive puts the Tour de France event into the crisis/reputation management category. Here’s the news story via newsvine.
On first glance it may look to be Floyd Landis’ crisis, but it is deeper than that. First the accusations, apparently proved false, that the legendary Lance Armstrong may have used illegal substances. Then the disqualification before the race of the leading contenders. Now the revelation (yet to be verified by the backup test) that this year’s winner tested positive. It has to add up to the general impression that those riders are playing a game of who can use what and not get caught. Does it matter to the public? Again, saints, sinners and saveables question. The true fan will be disappointed, disheartened and very eager that those in charge get this whole drug thing under control in a hurry before it destroys a sport they love. The ones who could care less or who think it is a silly thing to have a bunch of men in tights riding bikes up those hills when they should be riding Jeeps, well they are simply going to feel fully confirmed in switching past the monotonous OLN coverage. It’s the saveables that matter. The ones who think maybe there is something to all this hoopla. Don’t ride bike myself but gotta admire a guy who can win a race like that. These just might be athletes to respect.
Armstrong did amazing things in the US to bring this sport to the public’s attention. But as much as it took his years of winning to build an audience and respect for the sport, it can take hours, days or weeks for it to disappear. The communication team at the Tour de France office have their work cut out for them.
I’m sure they would like your advice, so here’s the question of the day: What should the Tour de France organization do to restore respect and credibility?