Thursday, September 20, 2007

Floyd Landis Found Guilty or Is He?

Cheater? Or is he? I met Floyd in February in San Diego at the Endurance Sports Awards. Here is what I know:

1) Floyd seems genuine when I rode with him and talked to him (when I could breathe at the ESAs) he was hard core in his feeling he is clean and will "fight to the death" to proove it
2) Rides like an animal even off of hip surgery
3) Evidence against him certainly has "reasonable doubt" in it http://www.freefloyd.com/ After reading this...hard to believe he is guilty - which the two voting he was guilty ackknowledge
4) French labs are not where I would test ANYTHING
5) Dopers suck - pro or age group - in any sport
6) I support drug free sport - http://www.cyclesportmag.com/
7) I believe if you test positive you should get a lifetime ban
8) I'm beginning to lean toward a "qualifying" drug test in order to race at all "qualifier" races for any race considered a "World Championship" including ITU, WTC, USAT, USA Cycling, USA Chess - proove it.
9) Something has to change in our sport but it also must be just and not a witch hunt
10) Especially cycling...needs to clean up their act. Triathlon is next - the sport most like an ostrich followed closely by baseball and football in the US

I'd love to get your comments on this.

Landis stripped of Tour title; appeal uncertain
By Charles Pelkeyeditor, VeloNews.comwith wire reports
Filed: September 20, 2007

Landis must forfeit his Tour title or appeal to CAS has been formally stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after an arbitration panel ruled against his appeal of a positive doping test during that year's edition of the race. Landis still has the option to appeal the case to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the UCI on Thursday formally awarded the 2006 Tour title to Spaniard Oscar Pereiro, the Caisse d'Epargne rider who finished second. Landis becomes the first Tour winner in more than 100 years to be stripped of his title, and he now faces a two-year suspension from racing and an additional two-year exclusion from ProTour ranks.
"This ruling is a blow to athletes and cyclists everywhere," Landis said in a statement. "For the panel to find in favor of USADA when, with respect to so many issues, USADA did not manage to prove even the most basic parts of their case, shows that this system is fundamentally flawed.
"I am innocent and we proved I am innocent." UCI president Pat McQuaid saw things otherwise. "He has been found guilty. It proves that the system works no matter who you are," McQuaid told Reuters via telephone. The three member panel voted 2-1 to uphold the results of Landis's positive test, with lead arbitrator Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren in the majority and Christopher Campbell dissenting. Campbell was the lone dissenting vote in the Tyler Hamilton blood doping case, as well. Read the Full Text of the Decision http://www.velonews.com/media/LandisDecision.pdf
Should he opt not to appeal, Landis's suspension would expire at the end of January in 2009. According to the decision, the panel had the option of suspending Landis from the date of its decision, but "in this case the athlete filed a declaration of voluntary non competition as of 30 January 2007. Therefore, the period of ineligibility will begin on that date and continue until 29 January 2009."
According to the ProTour ethics code, Landis faces an additional two-year ban from competition in that series. Although the sport's three grand tours will likely not be a part of the ProTour, the organizers of those races might be disinclined to invite him to participate during that additional two-year period.
The sample Landis provided after his stage-17 victory in the 2006 Tour showed a testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio higher than the 4-to-1 standard outlined in the world anti-doping code. A second and more specific test examined carbon isotope ratios, which officials at the French national anti-doping laboratory said indicated the presence of synthetic testosterone.
The majority of the panel found that while the initial testosterone-epitestosterone test was not "established in accordance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories," the more precise and expensive carbon-isotope ration analysis (IRMS), performed as a follow-up was accurate. As a result, "an anti-doping rule violation is established," said the majority.
The finding means that Landis was cleared of the initial positive T/E violation, but now faces a two-year suspension because the IRMS test did show the presence of exogenous testosterone.
"As has been held in several cases, even where the T-E ratio has been held to be unreliable ... the IRMS analysis may still be applied," the majority wrote. "It has also been held that the IRMS analysis may stand alone as the basis" of a positive test for steroids.
Landis's case was argued in a public hearing in May, and a ruling had initially been expected prior to this year's Tour. Landis spokeswoman Pearl Piatt told Agence France Presse that he has not decided whether to press his case before CAS.
"We're still digesting the report," she said. "They are still reading the opinion closely and looking at it."
At one stage, Landis had said the cost of making such a fight might be more than he could afford, although he has maintained his innocence throughout the doping fight. Landis has reportedly spent more than $2 million in his defense, about half of it from his own pocket.
One of his lawyers, Maurice Suh, called the ruling "a miscarriage of justice."
"The majority panel's decision is a disappointment, but particularly so because it failed to address the joint impact of the many errors that the AFLD laboratory committed in rendering this false positive," Suh said.
"To take each of these errors singly is to ignore the total falsity of the result. The majority panel has disregarded the testimony of Mr. Landis' experts, who are pre-eminent in their respective fields, without analyzing the impact of the errors on the final result."
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency director Travis Tygart said he was satisfied with the ruling, saying that "the ruling reconfirms our decision to bring this case in the first place."
Acknowledging the panel's decision to negate the results of the initial T/E test, Tygart said that since the agency's creation staff have worked "to ensure a fair and rigorous process that all sides can trust. We obviously have things we need to look at, but in this case, there was ample evidence that the athlete violated the rules and I'm satisfied with the outcome."
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said the decision to strip Landis of the 2006 title puts an end to a long and painful period in the Tour's history.
"We have waited a long time, too long. We said since the beginning that we were confident in the laboratory (AFLD) at Ch√Ętenay-Malabry," Prudhomme said. "Now it is proven and confirmed that Landis cheated. As far as the Tour de France is concerned, Landis was no longer the winner after the positive test of the second sample."
"According to the rules, the second-placed rider (Oscar Pereiro) will be promoted to first place," he added. "Landis did everything he could in his defense, for which he cannot be reproached. But it is clear that the process has been far too long."
Small>Was the decision right? Wrong? Let us know how you feel. WebLetters@InsideInc.com
The timelineFollowing is a chronology of events in the Landis case:
2006July 19: Landis loses the Tour de France yellow jersey after a disastrous stage 16 in the Alps. He falls more than eight minutes behind leader Oscar Pereiro of Spain.
July 20: Landis relaunches his bid for the Tour de France yellow jersey in spectacular style, winning the 17th stage after a daring raid of 130km. His stage win puts him just 30 seconds behind race leader Pereiro.
July 23: A day after seizing the yellow jersey in the time trial, Landis becomes the third U.S. cyclist to win the Tour de France.
July 27: The UCI announces that an unidentified Tour de France rider has tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Landis prompts speculation when he withdraws from races in Denmark and the Netherlands. Landis's Phonak team confirms his "A" sample tested positive for an abnormal level of testosterone.
July 27: Landis denies doping in a teleconference with US reporters.
July 31: The New York Times quotes an anonymous source as saying Landis's "A" sample showed the presence of synthetic testosterone.
August 5: UCI say Landis's "B" sample confirms the "A" result. Phonak sacks him. Tour de France officials declare they no longer consider him the race champion, although he can't be stripped of the title until the adjudication process is complete.
August 15: Phonak owner Andy Rihs announces he is disbanding the team.
September 9: U.S. Anti-Doping Agency denies motion by Landis lawyer Howard Jacobs to dismiss the case.
September 29: Landis undergoes hip surgery.
October 12: Landis posts hundreds of pages of technical documents related to his case on his website, along with a presentation by doctor Arnie Baker outlining what Landis's camp believes are scientific and clerical errors in the testing. The website posting is followed by a series of public appearances drumming up public support and funding for Landis's defense.
December: USADA requests permission to test Landis's seven backup samples to "A" samples from the Tour de France that originally tested clean.
2007January 12: The French anti-doping agency summons Landis but agrees to delay its probe until after Landis's USADA arbitration is completed.
April: Arbitrators vote 2-1 to allow testing of Landis "B" samples at the French lab that conducted original Tour de France tests. Results may possibly be used as evidence, although they can't be considered positive results. French sports daily L'Equipe quotes an anonymous source as saying several of the samples showed the presence of synthetic testosterone. The Landis camp claims its observers were denied access to testing and analysis.
May: Nine-day arbitration hearing conducted where Landis and USADA present their case to a three-person arbitration panel.
September 20: Arbitration decision announced, 2-1 against Landis. -Agence France Presse

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