Landis goes on media blitz after latest test

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The embattled Tour de France champion appeared on four morning shows for major networks.

Floyd Landis took shots at cycling and anti-doping officials in his first interview since a second drug test showed he had synthetic testosterone in his body during his Tour de France victory.

In an interview with USA Today in Monday editions, the American cyclist said he has been treated unfairly and cannot properly defend himself against doping accusations.

"There's some kind of agenda there. I just don't know what it is," he said.

After a horrible stage 16, Landis won stage 17 in the Alps, a remarkable comeback that put him back in contention to win cycling's biggest race.

"I put in more than 20,000 kilometers of training for the Tour. I won the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia," Landis said. "I was tested eight times at the Tour de France, four times before that stage and three times after, including three blood tests.

"Only one came back positive. Nobody in their right mind would take testosterone just once. It doesn't work that way."

Landis maintains that he produces naturally high levels of testosterone, but Pierre Bordry, who heads the French anti-doping council, said the Chatenay-Malabry lab near Paris found that testosterone in the rider's urine samples came from an outside source.

Landis said the media knew the result of each of his urine samples before he did, including the original July 27 revelation of the "A" sample positive. Saturday, cycling's world governing body announced the backup "B" sample also was positive.

That made it impossible for the cyclist to defend himself, said Landis, who also gave interviews Monday on all four network morning shows.

"I don't know exactly what the truth is," Landis said on NBC's "Today" show. "The problem here, though, from the beginning was the fact that the people doing the testing didn't follow their own rules and their own protocols and made this public before I had a chance to figure out what was going on, and I was forced in the press to make comments before I could get educated on this.

"Had they followed their own protocols, this never would have happened in the first place."

Landis defended his stage 17 effort, saying the comeback was less of an oddity than the positive sample.

The 30-year-old rider said his biggest mistake was reacting to media reports when the news broke, saying it gave an impression he was coming up with new explanations and excuses each day.

"I've been catching a lot of grief in the press: 'Floyd has a new excuse, a new reason for what happened,"' he told USA Today. "This is a situation where I'm forced to defend myself in the media.

"Something bad happened to me, but bicycle racing is the most beautiful sport in the world. I want to remain part of it."

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