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Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Landis could be cleared on Saturday

Cyclist doesn’t think second test will exonerate him from doping charge

August 2, 2006

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— Tour de France champion Floyd Landis, whose initial doping tests turned up positive, gets another chance to clear his name when a second set is expected to be released on Saturday.

However, the 30-year-old cyclist and his lawyer have previously acknowledged that they expect the "B" sample to show the same elevated ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone found in the "A" sample last week.

Michael Henson, a spokesman for the cyclist, confirmed Tuesday that a urine test on Landis after the tour's 17th stage turned up an 11:1 ratio - far above the 4:1 limit allowed. A 1:1 ratio is average.

The "A" sample was provided July 20 by the cyclist after he zoomed his way back into contention by winning a tough Alpine leg with an epic ride that will long be remembered by race fans.

Landis has insisted that his body's natural metabolism - not doping - caused the elevated result, and said he would undergo further tests to prove it.

But a New York Times report cast doubt on that defense. The newspaper cited a source from the UCI, cycling's international federation, saying that a second analysis of the "A" sample, called a carbon isotope ratio test, had detected synthetic testosterone in Landis' system.

The newspaper said the person at UCI had knowledge of the result.

The "B" sample, collected from Landis at the same time as the "A" sample, will be unsealed in the presence of Landis' lawyer and tested at the same Chatenay-Malabry lab near Paris.

If it comes back negative, the cyclist would be cleared.

If the tests confirm the "A" sample results, Landis could become the first winner of cycling's premiere race to lose the yellow jersey in a doping case. Should that occur, Tour runner-up Oscar Pereiro of Spain would be declared the winner.

Landis has already been suspended by his Phonak racing team pending the final results, and could be fired. He could also face a two-year ban from racing.

Although UCI counsel Philippe Verbiest confirmed that an isotope test had taken place, he declined to provide details.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said he had not seen the test results, but emphasized that Landis was presumed innocent until found guilty and guaranteed the cyclist would be given the chance to defend himself before an arbitration panel before any penalties would be imposed.

"It could take weeks," McQuaid told The Associated Press. He added that even if the "B" sample confirms the "A" results, no penalties would be decided "until the disciplinary process is completed." That process could also drag out if Landis decides to appeal a UCI ruling before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said results from the "B" sample were expected to be released Saturday morning.

Landis was traveling Tuesday within the United States, his spokesman said, without specifying the destination.

"We're waiting for conclusive results," Henson added, but he declined to comment about whether synthetic testosterone had been found in the first sample.

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