When the Floyd Landis doping arbitration opens at Pepperdine University in California on Monday, at least one arbitrator knows how to endeavor through hard times -- arbitrator Chris Campbell. Campbell wrestled with adversity many times in his past.
Campbell, who works now as a corporate lawyer, wrestled in college under Coach Dan Gable at the University of Iowa when the Hawkeyes started their storied domination of NCAA wrestling, arguably the most powerful dynasty in NCAA history. Wrestling under legendary Iowa head coach Dan Gable was unworldly. Gable would push his wrestlers to the breaking point, then farther. Gables wrestlers won all 21 Big Ten Championships Gable coached; the Hawkeyes also won 15 national titles under the master.
After prepping in New Jersey, Campbell began wrestling at Iowa under Gable's predecessor the late Gary Kurdelmeier, then continued as Gable took over when Kurdelmeier 'retired'. Campbell, 1974-77 left as a two-time NCAA champ, a three-time Big Ten Champ and overall record of 122-6-3 with 22 falls. Campbell was Dan Gable's first national champion as head coach at Iowa. When he graduated in 1977, Campbell reigned as the best Iowa wrestler in history.
Campbell trained for the 1980 Olympics. Known as one of the best freestyle wrestlers in the world, Campbell made the Olympics squad at 180.5 lbs; however he did not compete as the American team boycotted the ill-fated 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Campbell continued to win championships in AAU and world competition, as well as coach on the staffs of Iowa, Iowa State, and Cornell. At age 30, he entered Cornell Law School. Campbell wasn't done wrestling, however. At age 37, Campbell added to his fame as a wrestler when he began training again, subsequently securing a berth on the US Olympic team. He won a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics, thus becoming the oldest American to medal in Olympic wrestling.
For his achievements, Campbell was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005. Campbell is very active in the Olympic movement as noted in the link above. As an attorney and a former Olympian, his expertise often results in dispute arbitration for doping and other sports infractions.
This is how Campbell finds himself sitting on what may be the most note-worthy arbitration panel in sports history -- the Floyd Landis proceedings. Campbell accepted the challenge as the 'athlete named' arbitrator in the Landis case. Even before the Pepperdine hearings open, Campbell fired away at fellow arbitrators for excluding him on the Landis post-hoc testosterone analysis decisions. The other two arbitrators left Campbell out of the loop when making decisions concerning recent testing by the LNDD of 7 of Landis' urine samples. Campbell was reported to be 'hopping mad' by USA Today. His official letter from early May is found here.
Chris Campbell will find himself in the middle of the maelstrom that swirls around the Floyd Landis challenge. If Landis wanted a arbitrator with the toughness and the temerity to challenge the system, if that challenge is justified, Campbell is his man.
Note: we used to watch Campbell as a Hawkeye wrestler. He was lightening quick, earning the nickname 'The Shadow'. It will be interesting to see how he decides in the Landis case.