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Landis calls his testosterone imbalance natural

7/30/2006

MADRID, Spain -- Sounding more defiant than the day before,
eyes flashing and voice steady, Floyd Landis looked into the
cameras Friday and said he would prove he "deserved to win" the
Tour de France.

In his first public appearance since a urine test showing a
testosterone imbalance cast his title into doubt, the American said
his body's natural metabolism -- not doping of any kind -- caused the
result, and that he would soon have the test results to prove it.

"We will explain to the world why this is not a doping case but
a natural occurrence," Landis said from the Spanish capital.

The day before, in a teleconference from a location in Europe he
did not disclose, Landis said he didn't cheat, but had no idea what
might have caused the result on the Tour's 17th stage, where he
staked his stirring comeback in the Alps.

During that Thursday call, Landis sounded downcast and
heartbroken, saying he expected to clear his name but never his
reputation. His demeanor was decidedly more fiery Friday, when he
sat before a buzzing news conference and lashed out at the media
for characterizing his plight as a drug scandal.

"I would like to make absolutely clear that I am not in any
doping process," said Landis, wearing a baseball cap turned
backward and a white shirt with the name of his Phonak team.

Landis is still awaiting results from a backup sample, which
would clear him immediately if found to be negative. But his
lawyer, Luis Sanz, said he fully expected the backup test to come
back with the same result, because the testosterone imbalance was
produced naturally by Landis's body.

And the 30-year-old cyclist said Friday that he would undergo
additional testing to prove that "the levels that I've had during
the Tour and all my career are natural and produced by my own
organism."

Until those tests are conducted, Landis said, "I ask not to be
judged, or much less to be sentenced by anyone."

But Landis saved his most aggressive tone for the defense of his
title as Tour de France champion.

"I was the strongest guy. I deserved to win, and I'm proud of
it," he said.

In an interview Friday for ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong said he wasn't going to pass judgment on Landis.

"I don't want to pass judgment until we have confirmation on the 'A' sample," Armstrong said. "I'm not going to speculate; you can get Greg LeMond to go on the air and speculate. I'm not going to do that. ... I'm not going south like Greg does. I believe in the sport, I'm a fan of it and I love it.

"I've lived that life, I know what it's like to be accused of things," Armstrong added. "My suggestion to Floyd would be if you're innocent, you believe you're innocent, then you stand up and fight for it. That's what I did for the better part of 10 years. But you have to fight back, answer the questions, you have to be very specific, you have to be very aggressive. If that makes talking to the press, suing someone ... you have to do it."

If ultimately proven guilty, Landis could be stripped of the Tour title and fired from the team. Switzerland-based Phonak said it would ask that the backup sample be tested in the next few days.

"We will request the 'B' sample immediately, and I will have a representative there," Landis said. He said the result would be made public as soon as it was known.

Landis appeared to lose any chance of victory during a
disastrous 16th stage of the Tour, then broke out with one of the
greatest performances in history the next day. After winning the
17th stage, he submitted to a drug test -- standard for a stage
winner -- that showed an "unusual level of
testosterone/epitestosterone."

"He does not have a high level of testosterone. That's not been
documented. He has a high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone
in his urine," Landis' personal physician, Dr. Brent Kay, said
Friday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"Which could be due to an elevated testosterone level. It could
be due to a low epitestosterone level. And it could be due to a
variety of other factors with handling and specimen contamination
and various other things."

Kay, speaking from Los Angeles, also said that using
testosterone would hurt rather than help a cyclist.

"I would like to make absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process. I ask not to be judged by anyone, much less sentenced by anyone."
Floyd Landis

"I think everybody needs to take a step back and look at what
we're talking about. Because testosterone is a bodybuilding steroid
that builds mass," Kay said. "It builds mass over long-term use
of weeks, months, and even years.

"And it's crazy to think that a Tour de France professional
cyclist would be using testosterone, particularly in the middle of
a race. It's a joke. Every sports medicine expert, physician,
trainer, scientist that I've talked to in the last day, have really
the same opinion, 'No way. This is a joke.'"

Phonak suspended Landis after the International Cycling Union notified it Wednesday of the result.

Landis, a native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, said he was
shocked when told of the initial positive result. He said he had
been tested six other times during the tour, and many other times
during the year.

A homecoming parade planned for Landis next week in Ephrata,
Pa., has been put on hold pending more test results, organizer Rich
Ruoff said Friday. As many as 10,000 people and 500 cyclists were
expected at the event.

The news of Landis' test has rocked the cycling world, already
under a cloud following a wide-ranging doping investigation in
Spain that led to the barring of several of the world's leading
cyclists from the Tour.

On the eve of the Tour's start, nine riders -- including pre-race
favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso -- were ousted, implicated in a
Spanish doping investigation. Their names turned up on a list of 56
cyclists who allegedly had contact with a Spanish doctor at the
center of the probe. Landis was not implicated in that
investigation.

Armstrong said all he knew about Landis' case was what has been reported.

"But I will say this," Armstrong told The Associated Press in
a phone interview Friday. "When Floyd was with us, there was never
a problem. We never saw anything even remotely off, never had a
reason to suspect anything. He left our team for a better offer.
There was no suspicious behavior, none. It's that simple.

"Secondly, I can't help but be aware the lab that found this
suspicious reading is the same one that was at the center of the
'L'Equipe affair."

The French newspaper, L'Equipe, said samples taken from
Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France and then frozen tested
positive for the blood-booster EPO. The International Cycling Union
commissioned a report that later cleared Armstrong of the doping
allegations.

"When an independent investigator contacted the lab, they
wouldn't answer the simplest of questions, wouldn't go into their
testing ethics, who did the tests, etc., etc.," Armstrong said.
"I don't personally have a ton of faith in that lab. I think they
should lose their authorization and the report pretty much supports
that."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.