Fri, Aug 18, 2006 - Page 21 News List

Landis' father-in-law found dead in parking garage

AP , SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

The father-in-law of embattled Tour de France winner Floyd Landis was found dead in his car after committing suicide, coroner's officials said Wednesday.

The body of 57-year-old David Witt was discovered at a parking garage on Tuesday afternoon, said Paul Parker, an investigator with the San Diego County Medical Examiner. He had a gunshot wound to the head, and the death was ruled a suicide, Parker said.

"The Landises are devastated by the news of David's death," family spokesman Michael Henson told reporters. "They loved him dearly, and they miss him."

Witt was the stepfather of Landis' wife, Amber.

Landis' close friend, Dwight van Slyke, said that he did not believe the recent doping allegations against the cyclist directly led to the suicide.

"It could have been a few percentages of the whole maybe, or just another negative thing that he was depressed over," said van Slyke, adding Witt had also been struggling under the strain of opening a new restaurant earlier this year.

An avid amateur cyclist, Witt met Landis through a mutual coach in 1998 and at one point the two shared an apartment in San Diego, Henson said. It was Witt who introduced Landis to his future wife and has been credited with introducing Landis -- a former mountain biker -- to the world of road racing.

Witt and Landis served as best man at each other's weddings, Henson said. Witt married Amber Landis' mother Rose, a schoolteacher, a short time after the younger couple married in 2000.

Landis has been under investigation by cycling authorities after testing positive for high levels of testosterone last month. The Tour de France has said it no longer considers Landis its champion.

The 30-year-old cyclist has cited a variety of possible reasons for his failed test: ingesting something that raised his testosterone, cortisone shots for pain in his degenerating hip, drinking beer and whiskey the night before the test, thyroid medication, his natural metabolism and dehydration.

Funeral arrangements for Witt were pending.

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