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Landis Used Banned Substance, Lab Tests Say
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Landis Used Banned Substance, Lab Tests Say


Landis Used Banned Substance, Lab Tests Say
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Well, now, Floyd Landis is really mad. For nine months, the winner of last year's Tour de France has been fighting to disprove a positive drug test at the end of that race. Today, the French sports daily L'Equipe reported that backup samples from the 2006 tour also have tested positive for banned testosterone.

As NPR's Tom Goldman reports, Landis says he's infuriated by what he calls a full-scale attack on his civil rights and a mockery of justice.

TOM GOLDMAN: Remember stage 17 of last year's Tour de France when Floyd Landis powered back from his horrible performance the day before to put himself back in contention? After that stage, he tested positive. A more precise test later on showed traces of synthetic testosterone. Landis has been fighting the test result from stage 17 for months, offering his defense online, criticizing the French lab that did the testing for making mistakes.

His urine samples from other stages were negative. But last week, the same lab tested the backup samples from those other stages using the more precise test. And, L'Equipe reports, several were positive.

In a conference call this afternoon, Landis repeated his claim that he won the Tour fair and square. He directed his anger again at the French lab.

Mr. FLOYD LANDIS (Cyclist): I have again been thrust in a position where I have to answer for results from a lab that we have contended, for months, should have been suspended long before my samples were tested.

GOLDMAN: Anti-doping officials defend the lab as being one of the world's best. But Landis' attorney Maurice Suh accused the lab and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of conspiring to come up with the results reported today. The agency, known as USADA, is prosecuting the Landis case and it requested the new tests.

Suh said USADA prevented Landis representatives from witnessing the entire testing process last week at the lab.

Mr. MAURICE SUH (Attorney, Floyd Landis): They had basically free rein while our experts did not. The observation of what occurred was one-sided. And moreover, that one-sidedness was directed by USADA's lawyer.

GOLDMAN: Suh was asked if the Landis experts were able to witness some of the positive test results as they came through. He said yes. But the test results are complex, he said, and he doesn't have all the documentation to confirm or deny what L'Equipe reported today.

USADA general counsel Travis Tygart declined to comment on specifics of the Landis case. When asked about the accusations that USADA manipulated the process at the French lab last week, Tygart said this:

Mr. TRAVIS TYGART (General Counsel, USADA): You know, no single matter is worth compromising the integrity of the process or the integrity of the rules.

GOLDMAN: USADA's inability to talk about specifics has meant free rein for Landis supporters. That was evident at the end of today's conference call. A person who identified himself as a reporter from Playboy suggested USADA's approach to anti-doping has amounted to a witch-hunt. Attorney Maurice Suh said it goes beyond that to McCarthyism. The reporter responded, bravo. Then the Landis rep running the conference call said, that'll be our last question.

The Landis case goes before a panel of arbitrators at a public hearing next month in Southern California.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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