Cycling world stunned by Landis doping charges

27th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 27, 2006 (AFP) - Triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond hit out the corruption of cycling on Thursday after Floyd Landis failed a dope test which could see him become the first champion to be stripped of his crown.

PARIS, July 27, 2006 (AFP) - Triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond hit out the corruption of cycling on Thursday after Floyd Landis failed a dope test which could see him become the first champion to be stripped of his crown.

Landis, who won the 2006 race last weekend, tested positive for the male sex hormone testosterone after his sensational win in the 17th stage of this year's race which he won after powering away on a 130km solo breakaway.

But on Thursday his Phonak team confirmed that the 30-year-old American had returned a positive test in the immediate aftermath and would be sacked if the B sample confirmed the result.

"I'm devastated and extremely disapointed," LeMond told AFP.

"I can't imagine the disappointment for Floyd and his family. I really did believe Floyd was clean.

"The problem is the sport is corrupt and it corrupts everybody. I still believe it was one of the cleanest Tours ever. But is it 100-percent clean? No.

"You will always find riders who transgress the laws. I really did believe Floyd was not among them, that he was clean. Hopefully, he will be able to step up and tell the truth.

"But I'm encouraged by the UCI, the Tour organisers and labs who together are doing a great job against doping."

Landis will be sacked from the Phonak team if a second sample confirms his positive test for testosterone during the race, his team manager said.

John Lelangue told AFP he still had faith in the American but would be obliged to apply the team's ethics code if the B sample also came back positive.

"We are surprised by the result but we will apply the procedure of the ethics code that we have signed," he said.

"Floyd is going to ask for a counter analysis but we are not going to enter him in races until the matter is clarified.

"If the result from the B sample confirms the first result, there will be dismissal."

Former winner Laurent Fignon said he was saddened by the news.

"I have two feelings. The first is that I'm very sad because I find it hard to understand the motivations of certain riders who continue to cheat and I'm satisfied that we catch them," said the Frenchman.

"We are searching for the cheats, we have made a lot of effort in the anti-doping battle with the result that we are catching them.

"But obviously I am extremely disappointed to learn that a winner of the Tour could have tested positive and that the face of the Tour could have been changed if he hadn't had been there."

Tour de France organisers said they were stunned by the news and a statement said: "If the B sample test confirms the first result, anger and sadness will dominate the feelings of all of those who had been filled with enthusiasm for the Tour de France of 2006."

The T-Mobile team, whose star rider Jan Ullrich was sacked on the eve of the race because of his alleged links to the Spanish blood doping scandal, said doping controls need to be stiffened.

"If the B sample confirms the result, it will be a new blow for cycling," said team spokesman Christian Frommert.

"But something positive could come out of this. Everyone will know that a profound and radical change is necessary. Controls have to be improved to stop spectators thinking: 'They are taking something'."

Marc Madiot, the sporting director of the Française des Jeux team, hoped the Tour can recover from the setback.

"It is catastrophic," he said.

"We know who the cheats are. We know who are the major doping doctors in the world. We have to get rid of them."

Other damning responses came from throughout Europe.

"As a fan of the sport, you're disappointed every time there's a new case. It's very sad," a member of the Swedish Cycling Federation's anti-doping task force, Hans Falk, told Swedish news agency TT.

Landis' positive doping test is proof that a doping culture still exists in the sport, despite a slew of cyclists who have been caught using banned substances in recent years, he said.

"The only positive thing in all this is that the doping tests to some extent still work, that science is keeping up," Falk said.

Meanwhile, Landis's mother she did not know whether her son used an illegal substance but acknowledged "temptation is strong" in the high-stakes competition.

Arelene Landis told AFP she had not spoken to her son about the reports.

But she added: "He is prominent and temptation is strong."

"He is still my wonderful son. If it has happened I love him as much as if he had won," said Landis, speaking from her home in the tiny eastern US hamlet of Farmersville, Pennsylvania.

Arlene Landis, a devout Mennonite Christian, said that in her son's world, "temptations are different than mine."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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