Floyd Landis in hot water as judge issues arrest warrant

By Rhys Hayward

Floyd Landis

For cycling fans, the name Floyd Landis is just one of the many they would rather forget.

Landis was involved in one of the most high-profile drugs scandals in the sport’s recent history when he was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drugs test.

And now the disgraced American is in the news once again after a French judge issued an arrest warrant for the former cyclist. Landis has been accused of involvement in hacking into a French anti-doping computer in September 2006, further sullying the name of one of the sport’s most contentious characters.

The controversy surrounding Landis centred on the 17th stage of that 2006 Tour. In the first year following Lance Armstrong’s retirement, Landis was amongst the favourites for the mellot jaune after a strong start to the season and, after 15 stages, Armstrong’s former understudy found himself leading the general classification.

However, Landis had a nightmare on the 17th stage from Bourg d’Osians to LaToussuire dropping a phenomenal eight minutes and seemingly putting himself out of the hunt.

However, the very next day Landis produced an even more astonishing turnaround, attacking on the day’s opening climb and sustaining a punishing pace to the finishing line, all but eradicating the lead established just 24 hours earlier by the leader Oscar Pereiro. Landis then reclaimed the mellot jaune during the penultimate day’s individual time trial, seemingly completing one of the most miraculous turnarounds in the history of the race.

But for cycling fans watching the events unfold that year, a familiar sense of doubt quickly rose to the surface. How could a man seen barely able to turn his pedals — surrounded by devastated teammates vainly attempting to drag him over the line — get up the next morning and produce one of the most breathtaking rides in the history of the tour?

The answer, depressingly enough, was doping. A urine sample taken immediately after his ride on the 17th stage showed Landis had tested positive for a banned synthetic testosterone and had a level of testosterone to epitestosterone three times the legal limit.

Landis has always protested his innocence and the 34-year-old returned to action last year, riding for the OUCH Pro Cycling team in the tour of California. But these current allegations will only reinforce the assertions of those who believe Landis deserves to remain the disgraced, largely forgotten star he has been for the past three-and-a-half years.

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