We may know as early as Monday the results of an analysis of Floyd Landis' “B” sample and whether the American cyclist will be able to keep his 2006 Tour de France championship.
Making his first public appearance on Friday, Landis told a press conference that he has naturally high testosterone, and that he would undergo further testing to prove the high testosterone ratio is due to natural physiology.
A doping lab found elevated levels of testosterone in a urine sample taken last Thursday, about 30 minutes after Landis won the 17 stage in what commentators called one of the greatest stage wins in Tour de France history. The Phonak cyclist attacked for 80 miles that day, making up most of an 8:08 deficit he suffered after cracking the previous day.
The test results released Thursday are devastating to Landis and his fans. Even if the B sample is clean, Landis said, “I don't think it's ever going to go away…”
Making his first live appearance on Friday, Landis said:
“I declare convincingly and categorically that my winning the Tour de France has been exclusively due to many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling. I was the strongest guy. I deserved to win, and I'm proud of it.”
“I would like to make absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process. I ask not to be judged by anyone, much less sentenced by anyone.”
He said in a Thursday telephone conference:
“All I want to do before I take any questions is ask that everybody take a step back – I don't know what your position is now, and I wouldn't blame you if you were a bit skeptical because of what cycling has been through in the past and the way other cases have gone – but all I'm asking for, just for me, is that I be given a chance to prove that I'm innocent. Cycling has a traditional way of trying people in the court of public opinion before they get a chance to do anything else. I can't stop that but I would like to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, since that's the way we do things in America.”
“I've heard a lot of things because that's the subject right now. But I'm trying to be careful not to jump to any conclusions. I would like to hear things from experts who know exactly what they're talking about and not just speculation…But there must be an explanation. I don't know we'll ever get an explanation because what I need to do now is try to prove now is that there are variations in my testosterone level which are out of the ordinary. As to what actually caused it on that particular day, I can only speculate, because when you race your bike every day, I don't know exactly what happens.”
If the “B” test is positive, VeloNews reported, Landis could undergo endocrine tests to determine if the elevated testosterone levels are natural for him. Then he could challenge the results and whatever sanctions are placed on him (probably a 2-year ban) in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Eurosport has said those “B” sample results would be known Monday night, although Landis said it could take about a week.
The World Anti-Doping Agency places testosterone under anabolic steroids in its list of banned substances. The ratio of testosterone and epitestosterone is compared; generally the two are more or less even. If the ratio exceeds 4-to-1, WADA concludes doping exists.
VeloNews says there may be other explanations:
The T/E (testosterone-epitestosterone) ratio can vary widely within individuals, and in some cases the T/E ratio may be above the 4:1 ratio without doping while others can stay below the threshold despite cheating. The ratio tends to be constant over time, but wild swings may indicate doping. Other factors can cause swings in the ratio, such as dehydration, fatigue and even alcohol.
FoxNews also interviewed medical experts about other possible explanations for Landis' high ratio.
Other cyclists to beat the high-testosterone rap include Phonak cyclist Santiago Botero (he's been suspended, however, after being linked to the Spanish doping investigation) and Iñigo Landaluze, winner of last year's Dauphiné Libéré.
Landis told Sports Illustrated that he's contacted a Spanish doctor who has helped other athletes counter high-testosterone results.
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