Thursday, November 16, 2006

Landis' Lab Concedes Error...

Well, today the Chatenay-Malabry lab that administered Floyd Landis' positive test at the Tour de France admitted to an "administrative error," which the rider has made central to his own defence.

An unnamed source confirmed Landis' claims that the lab had given the wrong number in Landis' positive B sample, French newspaper Le Monde reported Wednesday.

"The error, of an administrative nature, does not mean the positive B sample was not that of the American," Le Monde said. "But it is being used today by his lawyers ... to contest his positive doping results."

Landis won the Tour de France in stunning fashion after an astonishing come-back on the final mountain stage of the 2006 Tour, but was later tested positive for excessive testosterone levels during the now infamous ride.

Landis has contested his innocence since the positive was revealed, and last month posted his legal defence in a 300-page report online.

In part of that report the American clamed that the French lab wrote sample numbers on test forms that did not correspond with Landis' number, then covered over the number with correction fluid and added his own.

The Le Monde story, which comes one day after French officials confirmed they were investigating a hacking into the Chatenay lab's computer systems, said that the lab wrote the number 994,474 onto the doping form, while Landis's number was 995,474.

"Even the best people make mistakes," Landis reiterated to French television on Sunday. "I can't say that the lab is always a bad lab, but I can say that in this case it made some mistakes ... I did not take testosterone."

Race organisers have renounced Landis as the winner of this year's Tour, though they are unable to name second-place finisher Oscar Pereiro the official victor until Landis faces an arbitration hearing in the United States.

If convicted of doping, Landis would lose the title and could face a two-year ban.

Spain's Pereiro, meanwhile, said he would boycott next year's Tour de France if a winner was not officially named.

"I will not go to the Tour de France if the organization leaves the first place vacant," he said in a press conference in Marín on Tuesday. "In that case, I will take part in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España."