Landis will appeal arbitration loss to Court of Arbitration for Sport

Updated: October 11, 2007, 7:45 AM ET
By Bonnie D. Ford | Special to ESPN.com

Floyd Landis will appeal his doping conviction in what could be his last chance to retain his 2006 Tour de France title.

Landis told ESPN.com on Wednesday his decision to appeal an arbitration panel's split vote against him in his doping case was easy "once I got myself together and made sure I had the energy to do it."

In a note on his Floyd Fairness Fund Web site, Landis said he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn the decision by a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency arbitration panel that upheld the results of his initial failed test.

"Knowing that the accusations against me are simply wrong, and having risked all my energy and resources -- including those of my family, friends and supporters -- to show clearly that I won the 2006 Tour de France fair and square, I will continue to fight for what I know is right," Landis wrote on his Web site. "Doping in sport seems to continue to get worse under the current anti-doping system, and this is only a part of the huge amount of proof that the WADA/USADA system needs a total overhaul.

"I will continue to work to clear my name and fight for change in the name of fairness and justice. No matter the final outcome of my case, there must be change in the current system if athletes can ever hope to compete on a level playing field and return to the joy and inspiration that sport can bring all of us."

Landis said he has "a little bit of hope'' that the CAS, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, will overturn the ruling the rider described as "contradictory and nonsensical.''

"We were all obviously very disappointed,'' Landis said of his friends, family and legal team, who helped raise the approximately $2 million it took to defend him before the three-man panel who heard his case in May. "But there wasn't anyone who thought we should just give up.''

The panel convened by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency voted 2-1 to uphold the results of tests that showed Landis used synthetic testosterone on the day of a remarkable comeback ride in the Alps that essentially clinched the race for him.

However, the two arbitrators who voted in the majority, Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren, scolded the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory outside Paris for lack of attention to detail and warned that further such deviations from standard scientific practice could jeopardize the lab's findings -- although they believed in the end that the scientific evidence warranted a conviction. The dissenting arbitrator, Christopher Campbell, said the lab's sloppiness completely undermined the case against Landis.

The ruling as a whole gave Landis and his lawyers reason to believe that an appeal was justified, the 31-year-old cyclist said from his home outside San Diego. The Los Angeles attorneys who represented him in the USADA hearing, Maurice Suh and Howard Jacobs, will continue to be involved. Landis recently traveled to Switzerland to meet with Zurich-based lawyers Alessandro Celli and Lucien Valloni. The pair represented Landis' now-defunct Phonak team in a successful 2004 appeal before CAS. In that case, the UCI, cycling's international governing body, tried to reject Phonak's license to race in Pro Tour events after several doping cases surfaced on the team.

Although CAS is generally the last resort for suspended athletes seeking reinstatement, there is precedent for an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (that country's equivalent of the Supreme Court), but only if they can claim that Swiss law was broken in the conduct of the arbitration hearings.

"I think it has been the result of a relatively careful process of looking at alternatives and what Floyd wants to do,'' Suh told The Associated Press. "It's balancing his desire to try to vindicate himself against the cost and emotional toll it's taken.

"But ultimately, Floyd is a fighter, and he just felt the [arbitration] decision was not an accurate reflection of what facts were or what law is. That's what ultimately motivated him.''

Landis said he does not know when the hearing will take place, but added he does not anticipate having to do much more fundraising for his defense, as most of the basic research is done. He is suspended from competition until early 2009.

The CAS confirmed Thursday that it had received Landis' appeal.

Rich Young and Matt Barnett, the lawyers who argued USADA's case against Landis in the original hearing, said they are confident his test results and suspension will be upheld.

"I really didn't think he'd appeal,'' Young said. "But it's a very fair system with a lot of rights, including appeal rights.''

Barnett said he "didn't see the merit'' in an appeal. "The evidence clearly shows'' that Landis doped, he said.

"From a resource standpoint, this is disappointing,'' Barnett said, referring to the time and effort it will take to re-try the case. "But the fact that he has the right to waste everyone's time and resources shows how fair the system is.''

The CAS hearing starts from scratch -- in other words, lawyers from each side can choose to present new evidence or new witnesses if they choose to do so. "It's a completely fresh bite of the apple,'' Young said, although he added he does not expect USADA's case to change substantially.

Young and Barnett are from the Colorado Springs office of the Holme, Roberts and Owen law firm, which frequently serves as outside counsel for USADA in doping cases.

Landis said it is "not an option" to have the CAS hearing open to the public as the May USADA hearing was, by his request.

Landis said the recent confession by Olympic track star Marion Jones has led to many comparisons he thinks are unfair.

"Anyone who thinks this affects me isn't using logic,'' Landis said.

Meanwhile, a symbolic passage will take place Monday in Madrid, where Tour organizers will formally present 2006 runner-up Oscar Pereiro of Spain the overall winner's yellow jersey in a ceremony.

Landis said he finds it "absurd" that Tour officials would make that gesture before he had exhausted all his legal options, but added he won't ask for the jersey back if he wins in court.

"I won't be taking part in any more ceremonies like that,'' he said. "This just shows what I've said all along -- they don't care about the facts. If the French lab [that processed his test samples] says something, they believe it.''

Landis also faces a two-year ban, retroactive to Jan. 30.

"My hope is that the CAS panel will review my case on the basis of the facts and the science, and to approach my appeal from the principle that the anti-doping authorities must uphold the highest levels of appropriate process, technical skill, science and professional standards to pronounce judgment on matters that hold an athlete's career, accomplishments and livelihood in the balance," Landis wrote on his Web site.

"Finally, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to my family, friends and supporters who have stood by me and this cause in the face of a huge amount of cynicism and despair across the world of sport. Doping is a cultural problem, and it is obviously a wrong that needs to be addressed and corrected, but perpetrating a cynical and corrupt anti-doping system will not solve the problem. Two wrongs never make a right."

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Bonnie D. Ford

Enterprise and Olympic Sports
Bonnie D. Ford is a senior writer for ESPN.com.