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Phonak: Landis had positive test after Stage 17

7/28/2006

Floyd Landis' Tour de France victory was thrown into question
Thursday when his team said he tested positive for high
testosterone levels during Stage 17, when the 30-year-old American
champion began his stunning comeback with a gritty charge into the
Alps.

The Phonak team suspended Landis, pending results of the backup
"B" sample of his drug test. If Landis is found guilty, he could
be stripped of the Tour title and fired from the team.

Landis took part in a conference call from Europe on Thursday evening and said all he wants "is that I be given a chance to prove that I'm innocent."

"I can't stop [judgment on me]," he continued, "but I would like to be assumed innocent until proven guilty since that's the way we do things in America."

"Why
couldn't they take care of this before they pronounced him the
winner? Lance [Armstrong] went through this too. Somebody doesn't
want him to win."

Arlene Landis


Landis received a fax with the test results on Wednesday and has been seeking expert advice since then.

"My immediate reaction was to look for the alcohol bottle," said Landis, who has been known to enjoy a beer on the Tour and said he
drank whiskey with teammates to bury their sorrows after he
nearly fell out of contention the day before his stage 17 charge.

Turning more somber, Landis said, "My immediate reaction
was a disastrous feeling. ... It's hard to put into words. I had
everything I could possibly have hoped for and dreamt of. At the
exact moment I was told, every single scenario went through my head
about what was going to happen. There was no way for me to tell
myself that this wasn't going to be a disaster. No matter what
happens next I knew it was going to be a long road. So my immediate
reaction was from a very, very high to a very low.''

Landis said he's been taking a small amount of hormone for a
thyroid condition and receiving cortisone shots for hip pain, but he was not sure if
those could skew the results. He rode the Tour with a degenerative hip condition that he
has said will require surgery in the coming weeks or months.

Landis said he's aware that he'll see a range of reactions to any explanation he offers and that "I wouldn't blame you if it was a bit skeptical because of what cycling has been through in the past."

Phonak manager John Lelangue said the team would ask
that the backup sample be tested in the next few days. Even if the "B" sample confirms the "A" sample results, Landis still would have the opportunity to appeal.

Arlene Landis said her son called Thursday from Europe and told her
he had not done anything wrong.

"He said, 'There's no way,'" she said in an interview with The
Associated Press at her home in Farmersville, Pa. "I really
believe him. I don't think he did anything wrong."

Phonak's statement came a day after the UCI said an unidentified rider had failed a drug test
during the Tour.

Arlene Landis wondered about the timing of the announcement.

"Of course he wasn't happy about it, but they're spoiling
everything he's supposed to be doing right now," she said. "Why
couldn't they take care of this before they pronounced him the
winner? Lance [Armstrong] went through this too. Somebody doesn't
want him to win.

"Why do they put you through two weeks of misery and spoil your
crown? My opinion is when he comes on top of this everyone will
think so much more of him. So that's what valleys are for, right?"

Whether Landis' reputation and Tour de France victory are tainted depends in part on the results of the "B" sample. But Landis knows a lot of damage has been done.

"Unfortunately, I don't think it's ever going to go away," he said. "From what I've seen, this seems to be a bigger story than winning the Tour. I think there's a good possibility I can clear my name; that's my objective now. Whether that happens or not, I don't know this will ever really go away."

Landis' triumphant return to the U.S. has certainly gone away. Representatives for the cyclist on Thursday canceled his appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, scheduled for Friday.

Landis said he was still in Europe, but declined to say exactly
where. "Not to be elusive, I have to figure out a way to get to
the airport and get home," he said.

He'll have plenty to deal with when he gets there.

Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list and methods committee, confirmed that while "A" and "B" samples hardly ever differ, the results might not be conclusive of wrongdoing.

The test detects both testosterone and a related steroid called
epitestosterone, which is not performance-enhancing. Both are
produced by the body and are also made in synthetic form.

Landis' team said his urine sample showed "an unusual level of
testosterone/epitestosterone" when he was tested after his amazing
come-from-behind performance in Stage 17 of the race last Thursday.

Under World Anti-Doping Agency regulations, a ratio of
testosterone to epitestosterone greater than 4-to-1 is considered a
positive result and subject to investigation. The threshold was
recently lowered from 6-to-1. The most likely natural ratio of
testosterone to epitestosterone in humans is 1-to-1.

Testosterone is included as an anabolic steroid on WADA's list
of banned substances, and its use can be punished by a two-year
ban.

Testosterone can build muscle and improve recovery time when
used over a period of several weeks, said Wadler, who is also a spokesman for the American
College of Sports Medicine. But if Landis had been a user, his
earlier urine tests during the tour would have been affected, he
said.

"So something's missing here," Wadler said. "It just doesn't
add up."


Every person's ratio isn't the same, according to Wadler.

"Some people are born with [ratios] that are normally 4-to-1, or maybe 8-to-1," he said. "If they are consistently that way, week after week, there are ways to evaluate that.

"If the elevation exists and occurs naturally in that athlete, we can figure that out. This particular athlete -- Landis, in this case -- I'm sure has had multiple drug tests and a history of his testosterone to epitestosterone ratios, and if there's a sudden aberration, it sends up a red flag."

A spokesman for the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's world governing body said the cycling body doesn't require
analysis of the "B" sample, but Landis requested it.

"We are confident in the first [test]," Enrico Carpani said. "For
us, the first one is already good."

Phonak said Landis would ask for an analysis of his backup
sample "to prove either that this result is coming from a natural
process or that this is resulting from a mistake."

Lelangue said in a
telephone interview: "He will be fighting … waiting for the B analysis and then
proving to everyone that this can be natural."

The 30-year-old Landis made a remarkable comeback in that Alpine
stage, racing far ahead of the field for a solo win that moved him
from 11th to third in the overall standings. He regained the
leader's yellow jersey two days later.

Landis wrapped up his Tour de France win on Sunday, keeping the
title in U.S. hands for the eighth straight year. Armstrong,
long dogged by doping whispers and allegations, won the previous
seven. Armstrong never has tested positive for drugs and vehemently
has denied doping.

On Thursday, Armstrong was riding in RAGBRAI, an annual bike
ride across Iowa that attracts thousands of riders. At the first break in Sully, Iowa, about 50 miles southeast of
Des Moines, Armstrong had little to say at the Coffee Cup Cafe,
where he grabbed a slice of coconut cream pie and a big glass of
ice water.

When asked about Landis, Armstrong told The Associated Press:
"I'm not here to talk about that."

After finishing his ride Thursday, however, Armstrong told reporters
during a teleconference to wait for the results of Landis' backup
sample.

"I don't know much about Floyd's case. I do know that we've got
a suspicious 'A' sample and we're waiting on the 'B' sample to be
confirmed," said Armstrong, who was teammates with Landis on the
winning U.S. Postal Service teams from 2002-04. "Until that
happens I don't have anything to say. I'm in Iowa to ride RAGBRAI
and hopefully talk to people about cancer."

Landis' inspiring Tour ride reminded many of fellow American
Tyler Hamilton's gritty 2003 performance. Hamilton, riding for team
CSC, broke his collarbone on the first day of the Tour but rode on,
despite the pain, and finished fourth overall.

But, a year later, Hamilton, then riding for Phonak, tested
positive for blood doping at a Spanish race and now is serving a
two-year ban. He has denied blood doping.

Second-place Tour de France finisher Oscar Pereiro of Spain said he was in no mood to celebrate the possibility of being declared winner.

"Should I win the Tour now it would feel like an academic
victory," Pereiro told The Associated Press at his home in Vigo,
Spain. "The way to celebrate a win is in Paris, otherwise it's
just a bureaucratic win."

USA Cycling spokesman Andy Lee said the organization could not
comment on Landis.

"Because it's an anti-doping matter, it's USA Cycling's policy
not to comment on that subject out of respect for the process and
Floyd's rights," Lee said. "Right now, we have to let the process
proceed and we can't comment on it."

Carla O'Connell, publications and communications director for
the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said: "I'll make this very brief: No
comment."

"It is obviously distressing," Tour director Christian
Prudhomme said at a Paris news conference, stressing the backup
test still must be done. Prudhomme said it would be up to the UCI
to determine penalties if Landis is found guilty of doping.

Also Thursday, one of Germany's main television channels
threatened to drop coverage of the Tour de France because of
Landis' doping test. The ZDF channel demanded guarantees from the
UCI and tour organizers that they will take firm steps against
doping.

Speculation that Landis had tested positive spread earlier Thursday after he failed to show up for a one-day race in Denmark. A day earlier, he missed a scheduled event in the
Netherlands.

On the eve of the Tour's start, nine riders -- including prerace
favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso -- were ousted, implicated in a
Spanish doping investigation.

The names of Ullrich and Basso turned up on a list of 56
cyclists who allegedly had contact with Spanish doctor Eufemiano
Fuentes, who's at the center of the Spanish doping probe.

World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound, speaking before
Landis was confirmed as the rider with the positive test, said it
was amazing any cyclist would risk doping after the scandals that
rocked the Tour before the start.

"Despite all the fuss prior to the race with all these riders
identified and withdrawn, you still have people in that race quite
willing and prepared to cheat," he told the AP by phone from
Montreal. "That's a problem for cycling."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.