Wed, Aug 09, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Landis doubtful he will be able to clear his name

BADLY HANDLED The US Tour de France champ decried the way his case has been handled since he returned a positive test during the cycling event

AP , CHICAGO

Embattled Tour de France champion Floyd Landis says the way his doping case has been handled so far makes him doubtful he'll be able to clear his name.

"By what I've seen so far, I don't expect to get a fair chance," he said in a telephone interview from California on Monday. "But I'm hoping that will change."

Landis said the release of test results to the media before he had an adequate chance to examine them made it difficult to defend himself. He offered no new explanation for the elevated testosterone levels, or synthetic testosterone, found in his system after a stirring comeback ride to victory in Stage 17.

Speaking about officials from both the International Cycling Union and the anti-doping agencies, Landis added: "There are multiple reasons why this could have happened, other than what they're saying happened. They're saying that I added testosterone to my body in some way."

"I'm saying there are possibly hundreds of reasons why this test could be this way ... and it appears as though there is more of an agenda here than just enforcing the rules -- if you look at the big picture," he said.

Landis used the same word, "agenda," in a round of interviews a day earlier. But when asked who might be manipulating the results or the timing of the releases, Landis replied, "I don't have a theory on that. All I'm saying is that circumstantial evidence points to something other than just clearly enforcing the rules."

After a horrible stage 16, Landis won stage 17 in the Alps, a remarkable comeback that put him back in contention to win cycling's biggest race. He said he won that stage and wrapped up the race because of hard work -- and nothing else.

"I put in more than 20,000km of training for the Tour. I won the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia," Landis said in an interview on Sunday. "I was tested eight times at the Tour de France, four times before that stage and three times after, including three blood tests. Only one came back positive. Nobody in their right mind would take testosterone just once. It doesn't work that way."

Landis said the media knew the result of each of his urine samples before he did, including the original July 27 revelation of the positive "A" sample. On Saturday, UCI announced that the backup "B" sample also was positive.

Landis also gave interviews on Monday on all four US network morning shows.

"I don't know exactly what the truth is," Landis said on NBC's Today show. "The problem here, though, from the beginning was the fact that the people doing the testing didn't follow their own rules and their own protocols and made this public before I had a chance to figure out what was going on, and I was forced in the press to make comments before I could get educated on this.

"Had they followed their own protocols, this never would have happened in the first place," he said.

Landis defended his stage 17 effort, saying the comeback was less of an oddity than the positive sample.

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