French judge issues arrest warrant for Landis
A French judge has issued a national arrest warrant for U.S.
cyclist Floyd Landis in connection with a case of data hacking at a
doping laboratory, a prosecutor’s office said.
French judge Thomas Cassuto, based in the Paris suburb of
Nanterre, is seeking to question Landis about computer hacking
dating back to September 2006 at the Chatenay-Malabry lab, said
Astrid Granoux, spokeswoman for Nanterre’s prosecutor’s office. The
laboratory near Paris had uncovered abnormally elevated
testosterone levels in Landis’ samples collected in the run-up to
his 2006 Tour de France victory, leading to the eventual loss of
Cassuto also issued a national warrant for Arnie Baker, a
retired doctor and longtime Landis coach and adviser, the
prosecutor’s office said.
Landis denied the hacking allegations in an e-mail to the
Los Angeles Times on Monday and said no warrant has been
served against him. He said he wasn’t sure whether Baker had
received a warrant.
“I can’t speak for Arnie, but no attempt has been made to
formally contact me,” Landis was quoted as saying. “It appears to
be another case of fabricated evidence by a French lab who is still
upset a United States citizen believed he should have the right to
face his accusers and defend himself.”
Earlier Monday, France’s anti-doping chief Pierre Bordry had
mistakenly described the arrest warrant as international. Granoux
stressed that the warrant is only applicable on French soil. It is
possible in such cases to issue an international warrant at a later
date if needed.
The American cyclist challenged the drug test results before
an arbitration hearing in California – claiming that computer files
were mishandled and erased – but he was stripped of his Tour de
France title and banned for two years.
“Landis used the hacked files for his defense, that’s how we
discovered the whole scheme,” Bordry said. “He wanted to show that
the lab made mistakes in the handling of the tests.” Landis did not
immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.
The French judge, who is based in the Paris suburb of
Nanterre, issued the warrant Jan. 28 because Landis did not respond
to a summons in November, Bordry said.
“Apparently the judge traced the case back to the beginning,”
Bordry said. “I can’t say I’m happy with this news because I would
have preferred there was no Landis case.”
After discovering the hacking, the French lab upgraded
security to protect its computer systems.
Landis’ urine samples were tested at the lab and found to
contain elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels, less than
a week after he won the Tour de France.
On July 20, 2006, the Tour’s 17th stage, Landis started more
than eight minutes behind leader Oscar Pereiro after losing the
yellow jersey to the Spaniard the previous day. But Landis produced
an amazing ride during the mountainous stage to cut Pereiro’s lead
to 30 seconds before taking the title.
Landis’ samples taken after that stage revealed a
testosterone/epitestosterone ratio of 11:1 – nearly three times the
The Chatenay-Malabry lab is accredited by the International
Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency. It helped develop
tests for the endurance-enhancing drug EPO.
Landis returned to competition at the Tour of California last
year. He recently competed in a minor race staged in New Zealand.