SCOTT SIMON, host:
Floyd Landis still holds the yellow jersey that goes to the winner of the Tour de France. He tested positive for testosterone after winning the race last July, but has not been stripped of his title. He's been waiting for a hearing on his case and not passively. Mr. Landis has been taking his defense to the public, posting French lab reports on his Web site, questioning anti-doping rules, and raising money to pay his growing legal bills. Eric Niiler of member station WETA has the story.
ERIC NIILER: About 150 people crowd into an Arlington, Virginia movie theater to spend face time with the 31-year-old bike racer. They line up with cycling jerseys and posters for Landis to autograph.
Unidentified Man #1: Well my favorite picture is the next one I want to show you. It's one of your best days, I think, the Four Claws.
Mr. FLOYD LANDIS (Tour de France Winner): (Unintelligible)
Unidentified Man #1: (Unintelligible) over the top.
Mr. LANDIS: Nice.
Unidentified Man #1: (Unintelligible) didn't get the wind that day.
Mr. LANDIS: Yeah, I had to wait a few years.
Unidentified Man #1: Yeah.
NIILER: Surrounded by supporters, Landis seems at ease, dressed in a grey collarless shirt and blue jeans. He's recovering from hip replacement surgery and only rides a few days a week from his home near San Diego. The rest of the time is spent with lawyers.
Mr. LANDIS: And I'm focused on this the same way I was focused on winning the Tour because this is an injustice, not only to me but to everybody in cycling and to everybody who is subjected to WADA and USADA's way of dealing with this.
NIILER: Landis says he's been treated unfairly by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA chief Dick Pound has called Landis a cheat, even though the case hasn't been decided. Landis isn't the agency's only critic. Several sports agencies are asking WADA to soften its tough anti-doping rules. The organizations also worry whether WADA drug tests are reliable, including the same test that nabbed Landis. Landis's defense team is also in a tug of war with the U.S. anti-doping agency, USADA, over whether to release the results of Landis's seven other doping tests from the Tour de France. Those tests came back negative. But his lawyers want information that may help his case. Throughout his fight, Landis maintains his innocence.
Did you take any kind of substance during the Tour that would have shown up?
Mr. LANDIS: No. Look, I was tested eight times. The one in question, obviously, is the one that we have to deal with now. The other ones were clean. This one also, if you understand it, doesn't indicate a positive test. But no, I didn't take anything.
NIILER: Landis and his team are challenging his positive doping test. They say the French lab mislabeled his urine sample, the testosterone test is flawed, and his sample may have been contaminated. To support these theories, Landis's team has posted hundreds of pages of documents online, calling it the WIKI defense. USADA officials would not comment. But some experts in the field are still skeptical. Christiane Ayotte is director of Canada's anti-doping laboratory in Montreal. She spoke generally about his situation, but has not read the case.
Ms. CHRISTIANE AYOTTE (Director, Canadian Anti-Doping Laboratory): You know, at the end of the day we have here a test result which gives an abnormal steroid profile accompanied by abnormal isotopic ratios that are consistent, presumably, with an administration of testosterone or of its precursor.
NIILER: In essence, what Ayotte is saying is that Landis still tested positive for banned testosterone. French officials conducted two kinds of tests on Landis's urine sample after a big stage win in the Alps. Both tests came back positive. Ayotte says Landis deserves to see the results from his other doping tests, which came back negative. As for Landis, he says he will not be watching the Tour de France next summer.
Mr. LANDIS: I deserve to be there. I deserve to start the race with the yellow jersey.
NIILER: Do you have the desire to go back and race again in the Tour de France?
Mr. LANDIS: Yeah, I do. It's still - look, it was a wonderful experience. Afterwards, things changed, but during the race and the way things went in my career for the last quite a few years, I've never had so much fun in my life.
NIILER: Landis's hearing has not been scheduled. And because of all these delays and possible appeals, he could still be the reigning Tour champion when the race begins in July. For NPR News, I'm Eric Niiler.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.