Accused Landis recalls rollercoaster of Tour

21st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

LOS ANGELES, May 19, 2007 (AFP) - Accused Tour de France champion Floyd Landis was composed and, at times, a little rueful as he recalled the whirlwind of the race and the ensuing doping charge against him under oath on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES, May 19, 2007 (AFP) - Accused Tour de France champion Floyd Landis was composed and, at times, a little rueful as he recalled the whirlwind of the race and the ensuing doping charge against him under oath on Saturday.

Landis, whose denial of cheating has included some confused excuses and bitter attacks on the anti-doping establishment over the past 10 months, was calm as his attorney Howard Jacobs guided him with questions through a summary of his career and the events that brought him to this American Arbitration Association hearing.

Landis recalled his spectacular collapse on stage 16 of the famous race, the second day of climbing in the Alps that saw him tumble from the lead down to 11th place.

"All I felt when I finished the stage was humiliation and depression," he recalled.

That night, he said, he gathered with some Phonak teammates in a hotel room to discuss how they might salvage the situation.

"That's when I had the infamous Jack Daniels," Landis said with a small smile. "It helps with the tactical plan."

He rebounded spectacularly with a victory in stage 17, riding practically on his own for 130km over five tough cols.  

But it was a urine sample produced after that stage that eventually tested positive for synthetic testosterone.

Landis recalled confusion as scattered reports of a positive dope test for one of the top finishers in the race surfaced, finally pointing to him.

He held an ill-judged press conference in Spain on July 28, where he vowed whatever produced the positive result was "produced by my own organism."

"I still don't know what that means," Landis said, adding that he was reading from a statement provided by Spanish lawyers.

"I shouldn't have taken the advice of those lawyers. I didn't know what I was doing. As you can see, those guys aren't here today writing statements."

Landis said his sacking by Phonak on August 5, when the result of his backup sample was announced to be positive, was no more than he expected.

He said he believed that whatever the outcome of his case he thinks he will forever be tainted by the accusation.

"It will be forever connected to me," he said. "I can't imagine that would change."

Landis, who faces a two-year ban as well as the loss of his title, will likely find the witness box less comfortable on Monday, when he will face cross-examination by lawyers for the US Anti-Doping Agency.

But he nonetheless voiced confidence.

Asked by Jacobs if he planned to return to professional cycling, despite having hip replacement surgery in September, Landis said yes.

"I have a little hiccup to deal with first, but that's the goal," he said.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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