Cyclist Landis denies doping allegations
May 15, 2007 - 2:41:17 PM

Washington, May 15 - American cyclist Floyd Landis has denied using performance-enhancing drugs at the start of his 10-day hearing before an arbitration panel in California.

Landis' lawyer Monday called the case brought by the US Anti-Doping Agency - an 'utter disaster' and disputed the credibility of a lab test conducted in Paris after his 2006 victory, which showed that he had taken testosterone, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The USADA's chief lawyer said in response that there was 'no natural explanation' for the large amounts of testosterone found in Landis' urine sample taken during the race. He added that follow-up tests by the USADA itself of seven more samples had only confirmed the result.

Apart from the loss of his Tour de France title, Landis faces a two-year suspension from the cycling tour if the three-member panel rules against him.

Tour de France's race director Christian Prudhomme told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last week that Landis would be removed from the official list of tour winners regardless of the outcome of the US trial.

The case is the first ever public hearing by the USADA - something Landis himself insisted on after a ground-swell of support in the US - and is being held at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California.

Landis' case is one of many doping scandals to have rocked the cycling world in recent months. An investigation was recently reopened in Spain into a clinic that allegedly provided doping drugs to dozens of professional athletes.

Italian star racer Ivan Basso earlier this month admitted he was among those who used the banned practice of self-transfusion of blood at the clinic of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Dozens of scientists are expected to testify before the panel in Landis' hearing, which the American cyclist has sought to turn into a trial on how doping tests are conducted and evaluated.

Landis says he was offered a deal by USADA to get off with a light sentence if he provided doping evidence against former teammate - seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs by French newspapers, but never tested positive for doping.

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