Thursday, July 27, 2006

Late Heart-Breaking News

This just in:

July 27,2006 | LONDON -- Tour de France champion Floyd Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race, his Phonak team said Thursday.

The statement came a day after the UCI, cycling's governing body, said an unidentified rider had failed a drug test during the Tour.

The Swiss-based Phonak said in a statement on it Web site that it was notified by the UCI Wednesday that Landis' sample showed "an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone" when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday.

"The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result," the statement said.

Phonak said Landis would ask for analysis of his backup "B" sample "to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake."

Landis has been suspended pending the results. If the second sample confirms the initial finding, he will be fired from the team, Phonak said.

Landis won the Tour de France on Sunday, keeping the title in U.S. hands for the eighth straight year.
It's been suggested that the perfectly legal cortizone shots that Landis has been taking for his hip might be responsible for elevating his testosterone levels. Let's just hope the "B" sample turns up negative. Howard will update this story as needed.

Friday Update: The blame on cortizone shots has shifted as Landis speaks out at first public appearance.
MADRID, Spain -- Floyd Landis said the high testosterone levels that caused him to fail a drug test at the Tour de France are the result of his natural metabolism -- not doping of any kind -- and he will undergo tests to prove it.

"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," Landis said.

"We will explain to the world why this is not a doping case but a natural occurrence," Landis said Friday in his first public appearance since the doping test cast doubt on his title, one of the most stirring comeback wins in Tour history.

Tuesday, August 1 Update: The French lab that tested the first urine sample conducted a carbon isotope ratio test on the same sample and determined that much of the testosterone in the sample was synthetic. This could be the kiss of death to Floyd Landis's career. The result of the second sample hasn't been announced yet. But the finding of synthetic testosterone certainly throws the burden of proof onto Landis to find or adequately explain how it got there. The story about Landis drinking whiskey with his buddies the night before (!!) could do it. But also... how convenient.


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