Cyclist Floyd Landis received word this week from the US Anti-Doping Agency that he's been formally charged with using performance-enhancing drugs during the Tour de France bicycle race.
The next step, a hearing before a three-person arbitration panel, could occur by January. The 30-year-old American cyclist has said he wants that hearing to be open to the public.
If Landis fails to convince the arbiters that the tests carried out by the French lab were flawed, the whole thing will end up in the lap of the Court of Arbitration of Sport. That's the last stop before Landis would be suspended from professional cycling for two years and lose his Tour de France title. He's already been kicked off the Phonak cycling team, which disbanded after the scandal broke.
The decision, announced Friday, probably is not a great surprise to many people. Even Landis' attorney, Howard Jacobs, told the New York Times, “We expeced this to happen. … The review board is basically a rubber stamp.”
A copy of the FAX notification of the review board's ruling, posted at Trust but Verify (which has been covering the Landis case like a blanket), shows the review board met by teleconference on Sept. 18. In other words, they phoned in their ruling.
After the French lab confirmed that his second urine sample contained a high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone and traces of synthetic testosterone, the case was forwarded to the USADA. That group turned over the information to its review board, which basically checked to see if the evidence warranted the charges.
In a statement on Landis' blog, FloydLandis.com, attorney Jacobs said he's seeking an open hearing before the American Arbitration Association.
About 10 days ago, after reviewing test documents from the Chatenay-Malabry lab in France, Jacobs filed a brief that listed three shortcomings in the synthetic testosterone tests administered by the lab. He also cites problems in the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio test, not limited to mismatched sample identification codes.
Meanwhile, back at the deteriorating hip, Landis finally is scheduled to undergo hip replacement surgery on Sept. 27. Dr. Brent Kay, Landis' physcian, said the surgery and physical rehabilitation program should enable him to compete professionally next season.