Cycling: USADA takes aim at Landis' character

23rd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2007 (AFP) - Floyd Landis was tense and terse Tuesday as a laywer for the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) questioned his integrity in his handling of a colleague's anonymous taunting of Greg LeMond.

LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2007 (AFP) - Floyd Landis was tense and terse Tuesday as a laywer for the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) questioned his integrity in his handling of a colleague's anonymous taunting of Greg LeMond.

Matthew Barnett cross-examined Landis three days after the 2006 Tour de France champion first testified in his own defence in his doping hearing before the American Arbitration Association.

Barnett pounced on Landis over his delayed decision to sack business manager Will Geoghegan after he learned Geoghegan had telephoned LeMond and threatened to reveal childhood sexual abuse suffered by the three-time Tour de France champion.

LeMond had revealed the secret to Landis in a phone call last August about which LeMond was called to testify in the case.

Barnett pressed Landis on why he was so slow to act and why Geoghegan wasn't fired until after LeMond testified on Thursday afternoon.

"In hindsight, I probably should have fired him immediately, but I needed someone to talk to," Landis said.

In questioning that lasted more than two hours, Barnett also asked Landis his opinion on the scale of the doping problem in professional cycling and why he chose to associate himself with the Phonak team when it already had several riders linked to doping.

Landis said he knew of that history when he signed with the team in 2004, but believed Phonak had cleaned house.

"While I was concerned about it, I understood they were going to make changes that they thought were at the source of the problem, and I was happy with that," he said.

Barnett asked Landis if he was familiar with doping methods and whether he had ever talked to doctors or teammates about doping techniques.

But he didn't ask Landis directly if he had used synthetic testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France, the specific charge he faces that could cost him a two-year ban and the loss of his Tour title.

Landis has denied cheating and said errors at the Laboratoire Nationale de Depistage du Dopage (LNDD) account for the positive result for testosterone from a urine sample he gave after stage 17.

Attention was drawn from the dry scientific evidence to the more sensational subject of Geoghegan's call to LeMond.

But the three arbitrators are likely to base their ruling largely on the scientific testimony that has dominated the proceedings.

After Barnett was finished with Landis, the cyclist's team called Simon Davis, an authority on the complicated laboratory instrument used to analyze Landis' sample.

Davis, the last witness to be called by the defense, said LNDD failed to follow the manufacturer's guidelines in maintaining and operating the instrument.

He was also critical of data processing procedures he had personally witnessed at LNDD, saying two technicians involved in processing Landis' samples - who have already testified here - "clearly did not understand the instrument."

"I think they're totally unreliable," Davis said of the Landis test results.

Testimony was due to conclude on Wednesday, when Davis was to complete his testimony and then face cross-examination.

USADA had the option of calling rebuttal witnesses before each side made its closing argument.

If closing arguments are delayed past Wednesday, they will be scheduled for some future date and venue, the arbitrators said.

In any case, the actual outcome won't be known for weeks, when the arbitrators render their decision after sorting through transcripts of the testimony.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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