Landis sample shows high and synthetic testosterone

PARIS -- Floyd Landis was fired by his team and the Tour de France no longer considered him its champion Saturday after his second doping sample tested positive for higher-than-allowable
levels of testosterone.

The samples contained synthetic testosterone, indicating that it
came from an outside source.

"I have received a text message from Chatenay-Malabry lab that indicates the 'B' sample of Floyd Landis' urine confirms testosterone was taken in an exogenous way," Pierre Bordry, who heads the French anti-doping council, told The Associated Press shortly after the "B" sample results were released.

Landis had claimed the testosterone was "natural and produced by my own organism," and once again maintained his innocence.

"I have never taken any banned substance, including
testosterone," he said in a statement. "I was the strongest man
at the Tour de France, and that is why I am the champion.

"I will fight these charges with the same determination and
intensity that I bring to my training and racing. It is now my goal
to clear my name and restore what I worked so hard to achieve."

The Swiss-based team Phonak immediately severed ties with
Landis, and the UCI said it would ask USA Cycling to open
disciplinary proceedings against him.

"Landis will be dismissed without notice for violating the team's internal Code of Ethics," Phonak said in a statement.
"Landis will continue to have legal options to contest the
findings. However, this will be his personal affair, and the Phonak
team will no longer be involved in that."

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said Landis no
longer was considered champion, but the decision to strip him of
his title rests with the International Cycling Union.

"It goes without saying that for us Floyd Landis is no longer
the winner of the 2006 Tour de France," Prudhomme told the AP in a
telephone interview. "Our determination is even stronger now to
fight against doping and to defend this magnificent sport."

Prudhomme said runner-up Oscar Pereiro of Spain would be the
likely new winner.

"We can't imagine a different outcome," Prudhomme said.

If stripped of the title, Landis would become the first winner
in the 103-year history of cycling's premier race to lose his Tour
crown over doping allegations.

UCI lawyer Philippe Verbiest said Landis would officially remain
Tour champion pending the U.S. disciplinary process, which involves
a series of steps:

Documentation from the positive tests will be forwarded to the
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which gives the evidence to a review
panel. The panel will make a recommendation to USADA, which would
decide if a penalty -- likely a two-year ban -- is appropriate. That
decision is forwarded to USA Cycling, the UCI and the World
Anti-Doping Agency. Landis can accept the decision or begin an
appeals process, which can take up to six months.

"Until he is found guilty or admits guilt, he will keep the yellow jersey," he said. "This is normal. You are not sanctioned
before you are found guilty."

The results of the second test come nearly two weeks after he
stood atop the winner's podium on the Champs-Elysees in the
champion's yellow jersey.

Testosterone, a male sex hormone, helps build muscle and improve
stamina. The urine tests were done July 20 after Landis' Stage 17
victory during a grueling Alpine leg, when he regained nearly eight
minutes against then-leader Pereiro -- and went on to win the
three-week race.

The tests turned up a testosterone/epitestosterone ratio of 11:1
-- far in excess of the 4:1 limit.

"It's incredibly disappointing," three-time Tour winner Greg
LeMond said by phone from the starting line at the Pan Mass
Challenge in Sturbridge, Mass. "I don't think he has much chance
at all to try to prove his innocence."

The case is expected to go to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; the
process could take months, possibly with appeals to the Court of
Arbitration for Sport.

"It doesn't end here," said Landis' Spanish lawyer, Jose Maria
Buxeda. "What matters is the concept. A prohibited substance has
been found in the samples, but no immediate sanction comes into
effect yet. The rider will defend himself."

Landis, a 30-year-old former mountain biker, says he was tested
eight other times during the three-week tour and those results came
back negative.

Landis has hired high-profile American lawyer Howard Jacobs, who
has represented several athletes in doping cases.

Jacobs plans to go after the UCI for allegedly leaking
information regarding the sample testing.

Earlier this week, a New York Times report cited a source from
the UCI saying that a second analysis of Landis' "A" sample by
carbon isotope ratio testing had detected synthetic testosterone --
meaning it was ingested.

Jacques De Ceaurriz, the head of the Chatenay-Malabray lab, said the isotope testing procedure involving a mass spectrometer is
totally reliable.

"It's foolproof. This analysis tells the difference between
endogenous and exogenous," he told the AP. "No error is possible
in isotopic readings."

Landis spokesman Michael Henson disputed that.

"There is no conclusive evidence that shows that this test can
show definitively the presence of exogenous testosterone," Henson

But World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said the tests
were scientifically valid.

"The overwhelming scientific consensus would hold these tests
are reliable and what they found is what they found," he told the
AP. "Had there been any scientific difficulties or technical
difficulties we would have heard about it."

Pound said confirmation of the synthetic testosterone finding
would undermine any Landis defense.

"It's probably a very good preemptive move to close down yet
another avenue of complaint or argument," he said. "The science
is pretty well accepted. The history of these tests are pretty well

Since the Phonak team was informed of the positive test on July
27, Landis and his defense team have offered various explanations
for the high testosterone reading -- including cortisone shots taken
for pain in Landis' degenerating hip; drinking beer and whiskey the
night before; thyroid medication; and his natural metabolism.

Another theory -- dehydration -- was rebuffed by anti-doping

"When I heard it was synthetic hormone, it is almost impossible
to be caused by natural events. It's kind of a downer," said
LeMond, the first American to win the Tour. "I feel for Floyd's
family. I hope Floyd will come clean on it and help the sport. We
need to figure out how to clean the sport up, and we need the help
of Floyd."

In Murrieta, Calif., where Landis lives, an AP reporter was
asked by police to leave the gated community when she attempted to
approach his house. Several cars were parked in front, and the
blinds were drawn.

A man who said he was a friend of the family, but didn't want
his name used, answered the phone at the Landis' house and
confirmed the cyclist was there.

"We're drinking some coffee, and that's about it," he said.

Despite the latest test results a sign at a nearby freeway exit
said, "Welcome Home Floyd Landis, 2006 Tour de France Winner."

In Lancaster County, Pa., where Landis was raised in a
conservative Mennonite home, neighbors vowed their support.

"All he has accomplished, he has attained through his hard work
and discipline. We are very confident he will prove his innocence.
It is very unfortunate that these tests were revealed before he had
a chance to do so," said Tammy Martin, a longtime family friend.

Paul and Arlene Landis, who have supported their son since the
doping scandal broke, were out of town on a previously scheduled

A note posted in their yard said, "God Bless, Went Camping."