Landis hopes arbitration panel ruling sets stage for return

Updated: June 28, 2007, 5:57 PM ET
Reuters

NEW YORK -- Floyd Landis is optimistic he will be exonerated of doping charges that threaten to cost him the Tour de France title he won last year, and is eager to return to competition and, next year, to the Tour itself.

A United States arbitration panel is expected to issue a ruling in the next few weeks on whether Landis was guilty of doping following a positive test for testosterone in the 2006 Tour.

"In order to convict me they're going to have to fabricate something," Landis told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Landis, who is promoting his new book, "Positively False", has maintained his innocence and blames the positive test on incompetence by the French laboratory that analyzed his urine samples.

In order to convict me they're going to have to fabricate something.

Landis

The 31-year-old American said he was keen to get back to serious training and that getting an artificial hip joint had cleared up an old injury problem.

"I'm happy to say it's better than it's been since I broke it [in 2003]. I couldn't be happier. I can ride, it doesn't limit me in any way.

"The only thing preventing me from training the amount that I used to is dealing with this case. I look forward to getting back to racing my bike again."

Since the announcement after the Tour that he had failed a doping test, Landis has been fighting the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which has never lost a case on appeal.

"They never faced anyone who's defended themselves, or had the resources to defend themselves," Landis said.

"They only prosecute Olympic sports and most Olympic athletes...don't make a lot of money. This has cost $2 million on my part so far in the last year.

"For the last year I've been going around to people asking for support because I didn't have $2 million or $1 million. I spent the majority of my money and I raised the rest of it."

If found guilty, Landis faces a two-year suspension and the possibility of becoming the first Tour winner to be stripped of his title.

Despite a number of doping scandals in cycling, Landis said reports of widespread doping in the sport were overblown.

"I think it has been exaggerated considerably, how rampant it is," he said. "Certainly there are people who have done it, admitted to it and there are probably still people doing it.

"As far as the entire sport, it's getting a bad rap."

Landis said he yearned to return to the Tour de France.

"This year is out of the question but I believe with the right outcome of the case I'll be back to the same level by next year. I really do want to.

"I spent a year now away from it and I miss it. I will watch it this year and I'll be sad that I'm not there."