The gesture, also known as "the bird", "flipping the bird", or "flipping (someone) off," is probably thousands of years old dating back to the early Greeks and Romans. In fact, it has been identified as the digitus impudicus ("impudent finger") in ancient Roman writings. See Wikipedia. Another webpage claimed that some anthropologists have argued that the finger is a variant of a classic "phallic aggressive" gesture used by primates to threaten your enemy.
Whatever its origin, in any language it is meant as an insult.
From Pez: Nys' teammate, Richard Groenendaal, showing his displeasure with yet another Nys win, apparently due to the fact that he will not be with the team after 10 years.
Judith Arndt at the 2004 Olympic Road Race. Cyclingnews.com reported that she was "expressing her frustration at the German federation's decision not to bring friend and sprinter Petra Rossner." Photo: AFP Photo.
Go here to see Floyd Landis making his own statement.
Landis is flanked by Robbie Ventura and Dr. Allen Lim and is giving the camera the "bird." Who exactly is Floyd flipping off. Me, you, everyone? It's all in the eye of the beholder, probably based upon whether one believes Landis doped or not.
You could view Landis' gesture as "sticking it to the man." For Landis, of course, the "man" is WADA, USADA, ASO, UCI, Dick Pound etc. Despite the man's attempts to keep him down, Floyd will not be deterred and will prove, once he is given the opportunity, that he is innocent.
The gesture could also be viewed in a negative light, though, as an expression of arrogance, an "I don't give a damn" attitude, and far from the image one might expect from someone seeking support, money and sympathy.
When asked, shortly after Landis tested positive, if he had any advice for his former teammate, Lance Armstrong replied that he would have told him to take off the backwards Oakley hat. Armstrong always knew that appearances matter. I think the photo was a mistake and could harm Landis' public image at a time when he needs support more than ever.