A French lab's mistakes are giving traction to cyclist
Floyd Landis's doping defense
FLOYD LANDIS knows how to rally—ask the riders he blew
by during the epic stage 17 surge that propelled him to a win in this year's
Tour de France. He may be staging another, equally unexpected comeback, this
time from the failed drug test that could cost him the Tour title. Last week
the French daily Le Monde confirmed what Landis's agent alleged last month: The
French lab that said Landis tested positive for testosterone during the Tour
mislabeled his B sample.
The lab admitted the error but said it doesn't mean
the positive sample didn't belong to Landis. Still, the mistake could cast
doubt on the test results and bolster Landis's appeal to the U.S. Anti-Doping
Agency. Landis defenders are also noting that a hacker broke into the lab's
system and swiped data relating to his case. Says Landis's attorney Howard
Jacobs, "There's a general sloppiness that's unacceptable."
An entire pack of disgraced cyclists is on the
rebound. A Spanish judge has ruled that evidence from Operation Puerto—the May
raid on a Madrid clinic that led to the seizure of steroids, EPO and frozen
blood, and the banishment of 13 Tour riders—can't be used to discipline
cyclists until the investigation is completed. That could take more than a
year, leaving the riders free to ride for now.