Posted: Thursday July 27, 2006 3:02PM; Updated: Thursday July 27, 2006 8:48PM
EPHRATA, Pa. (AP) -- Arlene Landis stoutly defended her Tour de France-winning son against doping accusations Thursday after he assured the family that he was "clean."
After speaking with Floyd Landis by telephone, Arlene Landis said she is convinced that her 30-year-old son did nothing wrong, and blasted cycling's governing body for "spoiling everything."
"My opinion is when he comes on top of this, everyone will think so much more of him. So that's what valleys are for, right?" she said, smiling through gritted teeth outside her home in Farmersville, a rural crossroads just outside the borough of Ephrata in eastern Pennsylvania.
Family spokeswoman Tammy Martin told reporters later Thursday that Landis had "assured them that he is clean and that further testing will confirm this."
In a teleconference Thursday evening, Landis insisted he didn't cheat to win the Tour and doesn't know why he tested positive.
"All I'm asking for is that I be given a chance to prove that I'm innocent," he said. "Cycling has a traditional way of trying people in the court of public opinion before they get a chance to do anything else.
"I would like to be presumed innocent until proven guilty -- since that's the way we do things in America."
Landis' Phonak team said it was notified by the International Cycling Union on Wednesday that Landis' sample showed "an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone" when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday.
Landis is suspended, pending results of the backup "B" sample of his drug test.
Arlene Landis said it would take two weeks for those results to be made public.
"Of course he wasn't happy about it, but they're spoiling everything he's supposed to be doing right now," she said. "Why couldn't they take care of this before they pronounced him the winner?"
Just four days earlier, Arlene and Paul Landis had celebrated their son's victory in cycling's greatest race, greeting well-wishers who flocked to the tidy white farmhouse in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
The Landises, devout Mennonites, frowned on Floyd's obsession with cycling when he was a teenager and were saddened when he chose to leave the Mennonite fold. But they had said Sunday they felt joy at his victory and hoped he would use it to glorify God.
His sister, Charity Landis, said Thursday she does not think he cheated. "I believe that he's a man of integrity," she said. Behind her, signs proclaiming "To God be the glory" and "Floyd's the man" were still planted in the Landis yard.
As word of the doping allegations spread, reporters and camera crews showed up at the Landis house in ever-increasing numbers and the West Earl Township police chief stood guard on the porch.
Dave Harple, a cyclist from the Philadelphia suburbs who grew up about three miles from Landis, rode up to the house and scrawled a message on a white notecard: "Floyd! You are the man! Can't let the French get you down."
"The French want to believe that he's not clean, that no man could do it with his injuries, but he can," said Harple, referring to Landis' damaged hip.
Jennifer Farrington, who co-owns the bike shop in Ephrata where Landis bought his first mountain bike, said she spoke by telephone to Landis on Thursday afternoon about the test results.
"He said he doesn't know why this happened. He did nothing wrong," she said, describing him as "very distraught about the whole thing."
"I think he's in total disbelief that this is happening to him."
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