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

his medal.

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

4:1 limit.

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.