Landis fights positive dope test

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis asked the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) on Monday to throw out the positive doping test that tainted his cycling triumph two months ago.

The motion, filed by Landis’s attorney Howard Jacobs challenging the validity of the tests, cites blunders by the French lab performing the tests, including a sample number that was not that of Landis on a confirming “B” sample positive.

“The analysis in this case is replete with fundamental, gross errors,” Jacobs said.

The appeal came three days after hundreds of pages of details about the doping-test procedures were received by the American’s legal team.

The motion for dismissal from Usada’s independent review board claims that tests conducted by a French laboratory on Landis’s urine sample after stage 17 of the race don’t meet World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) criteria for a doping positive.

Landis won the mountain-climb stage to lift himself back into contention after fading just a day earlier. He went on to win but officials found his “A” and “B” samples after the crucial stage were positive for testosterone.

“I did not take testosterone or any other performance-enhancing substance and I’m very happy that the science is confirming my innocence,” Landis said on Monday in a statement posted on his website.

“I was relieved, but not surprised, when I learned that scientific experts found problems with the test.

“I look forward to restoring my good name so that I can focus on my hip replacement and begin training for next season when I want to return to France to defend my title.”

The appeal attacks the carbon isotope ratio test performed on the urine sample by the LNDD lab at Chatenay-Malabry, a test the International Cycling Union and anti-doping officials have declared foolproof.

After seeing testing data, Landis claims that:

  • Three of four testosterone metabolite differentials tested in his sample were negative considering the margin of error, while Wada protocol requires all such differentials show clear evidence of testosterone to have a positive.
  • The lone testosterone metabolite that could be seen as a positive resulted from an unknown laboratory error and is not the result of testosterone usage.
  • The metabolite that Wada-accredited labs declare is the best, longest-term indicator of improper testosterone usage was negative in Landis urine samples.
  • Jacobs also argues the analysis in Landis’s case is filled with errors, including inconsistent testosterone and epitestosterone levels from testing on the “A” sample as well as multiple mismatched sample code numbers that do not belong to Landis.

    Jacobs said the confirming “B” sample positive assigned to Landis was in fact from a sample number that was not assigned to Landis, pointing to chain of custody issues that could invalidate the entire testing procedure.

    The review panel is expected to make recommendations to Usada within a week but Landis already has plans if that appeal is rejected, based upon his comments at a cycling race on Sunday in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

    In a story posted on the website of the Intelligencer newspaper of suburban Philadelphia, Landis emphasised the discrepancies between “A” and “B” samples.

    “Based on the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ sample, there are too many contradictions for the two to be the same sample,” Landis said.

    If the review board rejects the case, Landis plans to seek arbitration with Usada, which has not yet formally made a doping charge against Landis.

    “Assuming they disagree with that, then we will go to arbitration with the US Anti-Doping Agency,” he said. “If it does [go to a hearing], they’ll decide on a date then and I assume it will be December or January.”

    Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong fought similar charges of taking banned substances from the same lab that tested Landis’s samples, the US cyclist told the newspaper.

    “It’s the same lab that we’re dealing with here,” Landis said.

    “I said from the beginning there was some kind of agenda or problem with the tests, and it’s clear now the lab is the source of the problem.”

    Armstrong, who retired last year after seven tour titles in a row, has been a constant source of support, Landis said.

    “I speak to him maybe once a week,” Landis said.
    “It’s obviously not fun. Nobody would choose to go through this. But the good thing is he is the one guy who understands the whole situation.”—Sapa-AFP

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