Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Hackers breached French anti-doping lab, police say

AP , PARIS

Hackers stole data from computers at the French anti-doping lab whose test procedures are being challenged by US cyclist Floyd Landis, police said on Tuesday.

The Chatenay-Malabry laboratory, which is accredited by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), analyzed the samples which indicated that Landis had elevated levels of testosterone in his system when he won the Tour de France in July.

Police are investigating a complaint that computers at the lab were breached by hackers. The complaint was lodged by French Anti-Doping Agency president Pierre Bordry on Nov. 7. The prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre has opened a preliminary inquiry into "intrusion into an information system" and "theft of data."

"Floyd is troubled to learn from these reports about the continued security issues at the Chatenay-Malabry lab," Landis spokesman Michael Henson said. "Regardless of content, the actions being investigated are damaging to all parties involved, including Floyd.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first time the security of documents in this lab has been called into question," Henson added.

WADA chief Dick Pound said the hacking does not call the lab's integrity into question.

"Withdrawing documents and possibly altering them is an entirely separate issue," Pound said. "This does not reflect the lab's competence.

"This is an exercise done illegally with the express design to throw doubt on the quality of the lab ... and discredit the lab with forged documents," he said.

L'Equipe's article claims it has evidence from a police source that the hacker was allegedly part of Landis' team.

Henson said the allegations were part of a "character assassination" toward the cyclist.

"Any claims attributing it to Floyd or his defense team are baseless, untrue, irresponsible. Floyd continues to work on his case ... and will prove his innocence," he said.

The inquiry has been turned over to police specialists.

"Intruders penetrated the lab's information systems and used material taken inside in order to denigrate the lab," Bordry told France Info radio on Tuesday.

According to L'Equipe, a hacker accessed data and sent out letters to the IOC and WADA with the aim of discrediting the lab by calling into question its reliability.

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