London: Four days after standing atop the winner’s podium on the Champs-Elysees, Floyd Landis’ stunning Tour de France victory was thrown into question on Thursday by a positive doping test.
The Swiss-based Phonak team suspended the American, pending results of the backup ‘B’ sample. Phonak said it was notified by the UCI (world cycling body) on Wednesday of an unusual level of male sex hormone testosterone/epitestosterone ratio in the test made on Floyd Landis after stage 17 of the Tour de France.
“The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this result,” the Phonak statement said. Efforts to reach Landis proved unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Tour de France organisers said on Thursday they would be angry and sad if it was confirmed that Landis had tested positive for testosterone. “If the counter-analysis (B sample) confirmed the first result, anger and sadness would be the dominant feelings for all those who had been thrilled by the 2006 Tour de France,” race organisers said in a statement.
“Now more than ever the organisers will maintain the firm attitude they have displayed since the start from Strasbourg.”
The 30-year-old Landis made a remarkable comeback in that Alpine stage, racing far ahead of the field for a solo win that moved him from 11th to third in the overall standings. He regained the leader’s yellow jersey two days later. Landis rode the Tour with a degenerative hip condition that he has said will require surgery in the coming weeks or months.
Arlene, his mother, said on Thursday that she wouldn’t blame her son if he was taking medication to treat the pain in his injured hip, but “if it’s something worse than that, then he doesn’t deserve to win.”
“I didn’t talk to him since that hit the fan, but I’m keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are,” she said via phone from her home in Farmersville, Pennsylvania.
“I know that this is a temptation to every rider but I’m not going to jump to conclusions ... It disappoints me.”
The Phonak statement came a day after the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, said an unidentified rider had failed a drug test during the Tour.
Phonak said Landis would ask for an analysis of his backup sample “to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake.”
USA Cycling spokesman Andy Lee said that organisation could not comment on Landis. “Because it’s an anti-doping matter, it’s USA Cycling’s policy not to comment on that subject out of respect for the process and Floyd’s rights,” Lee said. “Right now, we have to let the process proceed and we can't comment on it.”
Carla ’Connell, publications and communications director for the US Anti-Doping Agency, said: “I’ll make this very brief: No comment.”
World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound, speaking before Landis was confirmed as the rider with the positive test, said it was amazing that any cyclist would risk doping after the scandals that rocked the Tour before the start.
“Despite all the fuss prior to the race with all these riders identified and withdrawn, you still have people in that race quite willing and prepared to cheat,” he said via phone from Montreal. “That’s a problem for cycling.”
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said Landis was notified of the test on Wednesday morning. He said the cycling body doesn’t require analysis of the “B” sample, but that Landis requested it.
Born: October 14, 1975 in Farmersville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Height: 1.78m. Weight: 69 kgs
Professional victories: 10
Landis bought his first mountain bike at 15 and won the first mountain bike race he entered.
In 1995, he moved to California and became a full time rider. Switched to road racing and joined Lance Armstrong’s US Postal team.
Split with Armstrong in 2005 and joined the Swiss team Phonak.
Won inaugural Tour of California in 2006 as well as Paris-Nice classic and Tour of Georgia.
Battled back from nightmare 16th stage in the Alps to win stages 17 and set up Tour de France triumph.
His team Phonak announced he had given a positive test for the male sex hormone testosterone from a sample given after the 200km 17th stage which he won.