Trouble for Landis?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jul 27, 2006 10:58 AM

There are reports now that the American Tour de France winner tested positive for doping on the day of his 10-minute, historic, mountain-stage comeback:

Tour de France champion Floyd Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race, his Phonak team said Thursday.

The statement came a day after the UCI, cycling's governing body, said an unidentified rider had failed a drug test during the Tour.

The Swiss-based Phonak said in a statement on it Web site that it was notified by the UCI Wednesday that Landis' sample showed "an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone" when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday.

It was on that mountain stage where Landis staged a stunning solo breakaway to overcome a huge deficit and put himself in position to win the Tour.

"The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result," the statement said.

Phonak said Landis would ask for analysis of his backup "B" sample "to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake."

Landis has been suspended by the team pending the results. If the second sample confirms the initial finding, he will be fired from the team, Phonak said.

Landis won the Tour de France on Sunday, keeping the title in U.S. hands for the eighth straight year. Lance Armstrong, long dogged by doping whispers and reports that he has vehemently denied, won the previous seven.

I hope there's some kind of mistake. It would seem to be more than risky for Landis to dope during the Tour de France, when he knows he's going to be tested, when he knows all the scrutiny Lance Armstrong faced, and when there's so much hating going on in Europe, they're predisposed to suspect him.