Landis' attorney seeks to dismiss doping charges

Updated: September 11, 2006, 11:42 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The attorney for Floyd Landis asked Monday that doping charges be dismissed, hinting for the first time at the Tour de France winner's official defense that his positive testosterone tests were flawed and did not meet World Anti-Doping Agency standards.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, attorney Howard Jacobs disputed the accuracy of the carbon isotope ratio tests performed on Landis' urine sample at a lab in France.

Jacobs also argued the analysis of a different test, the testosterone-epitestosterone analysis,"is replete with fundamental, gross errors," including mismatched sample code numbers. Jacobs said the positive finding on the backup 'B' sample came from a sample number not assigned to Landis.

"There are too many contradictions for the two to be the same sample," Landis said, according to Agence France-Presse, a global news network.

Both Landis and USADA had representatives at the testing of the 'B' sample.

According to Landis' camp, the lab in charge of Landis' sample is the same one that handled Lance Armstrong's samples.

"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." Jacobs said the positive tests point to a "premature public conviction."

"In our review of the documents detailing the tests on both the 'A' and 'B' sample, we have found evidence that supports our request for USADA to drop the doping charges against Landis," Jacobs said in a statement posted on Landis' Web site Friday. "While I cannot comment on the full details of our findings, we now have the foundation for a very strong defense should the case proceed to arbitration."

Jacobs said he and a team of scientists found "inconsistencies in the testing protocol and methodology" during a review of 370 pages of documents he received Aug. 31 from the French national anti-doping laboratory near Paris.

"It's incredibly sloppy" work, Jacobs said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It has to make you wonder about the accuracy of the work."

USADA general counsel Travis Tygart said the doping agency couldn't comment on specific cases but noted it is not unusual for athletes and their attorneys to seek dismissal of cases.

"Our standard process allows all athletes to make a submission to the USADA review board, and those submissions are seriously considered prior to any case going forward," Tygart said.

A review board is expected to issue a recommendation on Landis' case sometime in the next week. That process could be delayed if USADA responds directly to Jacobs' letter.

If the review board recommends sanctions against Landis, he is expected to appeal and ask for an arbitration hearing. Jacobs has said he would seek a public hearing, and USADA has said it would agree to that.

"Once again, we are asking for complete transparency in this process," Jacobs said. "Floyd has maintained his innocence from the outset and what we have found in the official document package points to a premature public conviction before all of the evidence could be considered.

"This is another example why the leaking of an 'A' sample results and violating the athletes' right to anonymity is such a horrible thing. It is this exact scenario that caused the rules governing anti-doping cases in the United States to be amended in 2004, to allow an athlete concerned about fairness to request that a hearing be opened to the public."

Landis issued a statement reasserting his innocence.

"I did not take testosterone or any other performance-enhancing substance, and I'm very happy that the science is confirming my innocence," he said."I was relieved, but not surprised, when I learned that scientific experts found problems with the test."

Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of WADA and a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, said Landis' attempt to have the charges dismissed by questioning the science behind the tests wasn't unusual.

"It's not useful to speculate about the science, until the science has had its day in the hearing process," Wadler said. "Only then do I think we can come to come conclusions. Until then, any assertion is only an assertion."

Landis told the Philadelphia Inquirer he expected the hearing to take place in December or January.

"I do feel confident [his name will be cleared]," he told the paper. "Things are going to be fine, for sure. First of all, I'm confident because I know I'm innocent. Secondly, if, like I've been told, they're going to give me a fair hearing, then things will be cleared up."

Landis told the paper he will spend his time until the hearing trying to gather other evidence to support his claim of innocence.

"We'll try to get more evidence," he said. "They refuse to provide information for us to make arguments. That's unacceptable. ... I was tested eight times in the Tour. This one came in the middle. We'd like to show this was out of order in the series of tests."

Landis said he was encouraged when Marion Jones was recently cleared after the results of tests on her backup sample came back negative.

"As you see, they just demonstrated that they misrepresented their test," he told the paper. "They've been doing the same thing with the testosterone test. It's not cut-and-dry like they say. ...They need to proceed from here on out with my case and everyone else in the interest of science and fairness, instead of making a name for themselves."

On Friday, the head of the French Council to Prevent and Combat Doping revealed that 13 riders tested positive for drugs at the Tour de France this year, and all except Landis had medical certificates allowing them to take banned substances.

Of the 105 riders tested, 60 percent had the certificates, said Pierre Bordry, who is concerned by the large number of cyclists who had such medical certificates, which are approved by the sport's governing body.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.