Tour de France-winning cyclist Floyd Landis of the United States is continuing his battle against doping charges leveled against him following the 2006 race. Landis has written a book in which he confronts his accusers in the doping scandal that he says has unfairly tainted his career. As VOA's Jim Stevenson reports, Landis was upbeat in a recent visit to Voice of America headquarters in Washington.
The book is called Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France. In it, Landis outlines evidence he says will prove his innocence. The American rider tested positive for a high ratio of epitestosterone to normal testosterone, an indication that he had used a banned synthetic form of the male hormone.
Landis formally presented his evidence during an appeal hearing with the U.S. Anti-doping Agency. He says he is hoping to prevail so he can return to racing. "Either way there is a possibility for an appeal. But I am hopeful they will just drop it if I win. And I will be able to come back to racing immediately," he said.
In his book, Landis criticizes the French laboratory that conduted the drug tests. He says much of the problem lies with unchecked governing bodies of cycling and the Olympic Games. And he told VOA sports that his case in particular was badly mishandled.
"The problem is when somebody is accused and the public assumes they are guilty, it is impossible to ever prove that you are innocent. We proved the tests were not done right. We proved they did not test for testosterone. They tested for something else. But that does not mean I did not do it. That just could mean the test does not work. I mean it is impossible to prove you are innocent. So the damage is done once it [the charge] is made public," he said.
Despite all the controversies over illegal drugs that surround the sport of cycling, Floyd Landis says he believes the sport will survive the scandals. "It is unfortunate the beauty of the sport has been overwhelmed by this subject because it is a beautiful sport. And it is something anyone can get into at any age and do and improve for long periods of time. And it is healthy and it is fun to do. And it is unfortunate that right now this is the subject. But I think it will get better very soon," he said.
Landis was released by his team following his positive test. He could become the first Tour de France winner to be stripped of the title for doping.
The cloud over Landis grew darker when Danish rider Bjarne Riis recently admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the 1996 Tour de France. His admission confirmed years of speculation that he benefited from banned substances.
However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said that the time limits to sanction Riis have expired. But the UCI has urged Riis to return his yellow jersey, the symbol of his victory.