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Standing By Your Son

Jul
28
2006

There’s one thing for sure in the current doping controversy surrounding Tour de France winner Floyd Landis–he’s got an unusual mother.
Landis won the cycling competition this month with a great back story: a comeback victory, carrying on despite pain from a hip problem. And then there’s his family; Landis comes from a conservative Mennonite background he left behind to pursue cycling, with parents who eventually came around to support him. (This Spanish profile notes Landis finds two weeks a year to return to the fold and visit his parents and five siblings.)
And then, he tested positive for high levels of testosterone. If a repeat test gives the same results, Landis will likely have the victory taken away.
So what about the mother? Well, her quotes here to the Associated Press look like standard boilerplate stand-by-your-son speech.

After speaking with Floyd Landis by telephone, Arlene Landis said she is convinced her 30-year-old son did nothing wrong and blasted cycling’s governing body for “spoiling everything.”
“My opinion is when he comes on top of this, everyone will think so much more of him. So that’s what valleys are for, right?” she said outside her home in a section of rural Lancaster County called Farmersville.

But look at her initial reaction, from an earlier wire report, before she had had a chance to speak by phone with her son:

Arlene Landis, his mother, said Thursday that she wouldn’t blame her son if he was taking medication to treat the pain in his injured hip, but ”if it’s something worse than that, then he doesn’t deserve to win.”
”I didn’t talk to him since that hit the fan, but I’m keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are,” she told The Associated Press in a phone interview from her home…. ”I know that this is a temptation to every rider but I’m not going to jump to conclusions … It disappoints me.”

Now there’s a slim but unlikely chance that Mom Landis got media relations coaching in the time between the two interviews, or more likely, that she realized she didn’t sound very supportive of her son the first time around.
But another way to explain the difference in the statements is, maybe she was just being…honest. I don’t normally recommend taking news quotes at face value, but maybe she was just saying, “I don’t know because he hasn’t told me yet, but if he did it, it is wrong.” That’s a woman who maintains her values, no matter what. And then after speaking with him, she really did believe her son. That would be a nice mother.
I assume my first reaction, and I bet yours too, if a reporter called up asking for a response would be to say, “Oh no, not my son.” But of course, and I hate to say this, there’s a very good possibility that I’m not raising Tour de France competitors.
So can we take away any parenting tips here? Do tough competitors need tough-talking moms? First of all you need to decide how much blame or praise any parent should get for how her kids turn out. But, happy endings being popular and all, I think Son Landis would need to keep the title for Mom Landis to have much chance of selling a parenting guide.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 12:02 AM | Permalink

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