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Floyd Landis caught cheated to win the 2006 Tour de France


An international court late this morning put an end to Lancaster County native Floyd Landis' attempts to clear his name from charges that he cheated to win the 2006 Tour de France bicycle race.

The Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld last year's ruling of a U.S. arbitration panel that Landis had used artificial testosterone in his come-from-behind victory of the three-week race.

The ruling ends an extensive legal battle and cements Landis in the record books as the first winner of the 105-year-old race to be stripped of his title.

Landis, originally from Farmersville, has always maintained his innocence.

He is believed to have spent at least $2 million on his unsuccessful defense, and today's ruling opens the possibility the World Anti-doping Agency may seek $1.3 million from him for its legal fees.

The court ruled this morning that Landis must pay $100,000 to the U.S. Anti-doping Agency for legal fees, The Associated Press reported.

In an interview this morning prior to the announcement of the decision, Mike Farrington, owner of Ephrata's Green Mountain Cyclery bike shop and a longtime friend of Landis, said the ruling had been the talk of the shop in recent weeks.

"Everybody keeps asking," Farrington said of Landis. "There isn't a day that goes by that people don't ask about him."

Farrington said the only thing Landis had really been hoping for was restoration of his good name.

"No matter what the verdict, everybody has already lost by the way this whole thing has been handled," Farrington said before the ruling was announced.

Landis' reputation will be forever tarnished by the charges, Farrington said. And, cycling — which was on the verge of becoming a mainstream sport during the years Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France — was probably set back 20 years by the doping charges, Farrington believes.

Landis was suspended from sanctioned racing following the U.S. panel's ruling in September. That suspension is due to expire on Jan. 30, 2009.

Landis, 33, will likely begin racing again next year, Farrington said. He believes his friend will be propelled by anger and a desire to prove his ability.

While other athletes had denied doping allegations, Landis' case is unique. As the winner of cycling's most prestigious race, he is one of the highest-profile athletes every accused of doping. And, he was the first to defend himself so vigorously and publicly.

Prior to his May 2007 hearing, Landis' defense team began posting information on the Internet in what came to be known as the "wiki defense." The process invited comments from the public. Many scientists, including some who were barred from commenting officially because they work at anti-doping labs, provided analysis that helped guide the defense.

The result was an extensive defense case in which Landis' legal team pointed out hundreds of errors and inconsistencies in the lab work. They argued that the case against him could not be believed.

Landis presented an overview of that defense, titled "What's Fair is Clear," at a series of town hall-style meetings early last year. Along with building public support for his case, Landis raised money for his defense, which he estimated would cost $2 million.

He sold out the Ephrata Performing Arts Center for two nights in March 2007, when friends, family and fans came to hear his side of the story.

Landis continued his public campaign into the hearing room. He was the first athlete to opt to have an open-door hearing before the North American Arbitration Association. There was daily news coverage of the 10-day hearing at Pepperdine University, in Malibu, Calif.

That likely worked against him when three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond was called to testify on behalf of the U.S. Anti-doping Agency. LeMond contended that Landis admitted in a telephone conversation that he had doped. Landis flatly denied the account.

LeMond's testimony caught international attention when he also alleged that Landis' manager, Will Goeghegan, had called him the night before and threatened to expose sexual abuse that LeMond had suffered as a child if LeMond testified against Landis. Landis fired Goeghegan.

When the ruling from the hearing was released in September, two of the three arbiters acknowledged there were errors in the initial lab testing of Landis' testosterone-epitestosterone ratio. Yet, they found a subsequent carbon isotope ratio test showed evidence of artificial testosterone. They suspended Landis from sanctioned bicycle racing for two years. That suspension is due to expire on Jan. 30, 2009.

The international governing body of cycling stripped Landis of the Tour title and awarded it to second-place finisher Oscar Pereiro of Spain.

Landis appealed the ruling to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. A five-day, closed-door hearing was held in New York in March.

Last summer, Landis detailed his cycling career and his case in the autobiography "Positively False," which he co-wrote with Bicycling Magazine editor Loren Mooney. The book became a best-seller.

Between legal battles, Landis returned to his start in bicycling by participating in grueling 100-mile mountain-bike races that are not sanctioned by the sport's international governing body.

Landis started racing mountain bikes in Brickerville as a teenager. He became a professional mountain-bike racer after graduating from Conestoga Valley High School in 1994. He later switched to road bicycle racing. As a member of the U.S. Postal team, he helped Lance Armstrong claim three of his seven Tour de France victories.


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