Landis Fails Tour Drug Test

News & Results

07/28/2006| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill

Landis Fails Tour Drug Test

The 2006 Tour de France began in controversy and seems to have reentered it after its conclusion.

The 2006 Tour de France began in controversy and seems to have reentered it after its conclusion. Tour champion Floyd Landis (Phonak) has tested positive for testosterone and epitestosterone, according to the Union of International Cyclists (UCI). The test occurred on July 20, the evening after Landis?s Stage 17 victory. His triumph, which came one day after he lost 10 minutes and plummeted from first to tenth overall, put the Phonak rider within 0:30 of the yellow jersey and set the stage for his overall victory.

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Speculation that Landis might have failed a drug test began on Wednesday, when the UCI confirmed rumors that there had been one positive drug test during the Tour. Landis?s nonappearance at previously scheduled events, a race in Denmark and a criterium in The Netherlands, fueled speculation that his result might be the positive one. A number of newspapers published articles stating that the test occurred after Stage 17 with a rider who was high in the general classification.   At some time on Wednesday, the UCI informed Phonak and Landis of the test result of his A sample.


Landis, who is currently at an undisclosed location, and Phonak professed surprise at the result. In accordance with the Pro Tour Ethical Code, Phonak has suspended the American and has promised to fire him if the counteranalysis (the B sample) does not exonerate him. In a telephone press conference on Thursday night, Landis declared his innocence, and stated that he wanted the chance to prove himself. He added that he and his doctor have no explanation for the positive test and that he would request a counteranalysis on Friday. The Phonak rider concluded by requesting that reporters, who have besieged his parents in recent days, leave them alone.


A variety of reactions to the news has taken place. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d?Epargne), the Tour runner-up, stands to benefit if Landis is not exonerated. Landis will be stripped of the title, which will go to the Spaniard. Pereiro, however, is unenthusiastic about the possibility. ?Right now, we only know what?s been in the media, but I don?t want to be named the winner of the Tour de France in this manner,? the Spaniard said. ?I would prefer to stay in second place. If it comes to that, everyone loses. Cycling loses, the Tour loses, and my friend loses everything. That?s not just.?


Greg Lemond, a three-time Tour winner, says, ?This news destroys me. I am sure that Floyd Landis and his family are deeply saddened by all that. Floyd is not a bad guy. He is victim of a sport that is corrupted. It seemed that this Tour was one of the cleanest. But it looks like it wasn?t 100 percent. There will always be someone who will not comply with the rules. I wanted to believe that Floyd wasn?t one of them.?


Pat McQuaid, UCI president, declares, ?If the test is confirmed, we will need to carry out a complete audit of the sport, from top to bottom and take some tough decisions.


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