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Lawyers attack French lab

Lawyers attack French lab
By Eurosport

23/05/2007 at 23:46Updated

Lawyers representing Floyd Landis renewed their attack on the French laboratory that analysed the Tour de France champion's urine samples as his public doping hearing entered its final day on Wednesday.

Responding to questions, British mass spectrometry expert Simon Davis said he was "flabbergasted" by the way technicians operated at the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory (LNDD) outside Paris.

Davis, an observer for Landis when the samples were re-tested at the LNDD in April, said data from the lab had been manipulated and described the instrument used as a "very expensive and random number generator".

He added that critical evidence had been removed from the lab's computer hardware.

"Frankly, I was flabbergasted when I saw they were reprocessing it manually," he said, referring to how the LNDD technicians had reprocessed the results.

Davis said he had expected the re-testing of Landis's samples to be performed on modern software instead of the 10-year-old software used for the initial analysis last year.

Landis, battling to keep his 2006 Tour title after a positive doping test, has consistently denied using performance enhancing drugs and his legal team claim the French laboratory failed to adhere to "international standards".

At issue is whether Landis's remarkable comeback in one of the Tour's toughest hill-climb stages was the result of his taking a synthetic form of the male hormone testosterone.

BUNGLED TESTS

Tests performed at the LNDD on a urine sample taken from Landis after the Tour's 17th stage purportedly showed evidence of the synthetic testosterone but Landis's legal team claim the French technicians were incompetent and bungled the tests.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) lawyers say the test results were accurate and that Landis should be punished with a two-year suspension and the loss of his Tour championship.

It would be the first time in the 104-year history of the epic cycle race that a winner has been stripped of his title.

Amid the welter of often tedious scientific evidence given during the nine-day hearing, three-times Tour winner Greg LeMond implied on the witness stand that Landis had implicitly admitted to taking synthetic testosterone.

LeMond testified on Thursday that he spoke to Landis by phone shortly after the news that Landis's urine test had proved positive for testosterone, asking him to "come clean" and help the sport of cycling.

He said Landis replied: "What good would it do ... if I did, it would destroy a lot of my friends and hurt a lot of people."

LeMond also said he had received a threatening phone call from Landis's former business manager, Will Geoghegan, intimating he would reveal that LeMond had been sexually abused as a child. The Landis camp subsequently fired Geoghegan.

Landis, who testified on Saturday and again on Tuesday, has repeatedly denied taking steroids, saying he could not take any joy in winning had he cheated.

The hearing, in a court room setting at Pepperdine University's School of Law, is being held before three attorneys who specialise in arbitration. It is the first such anti-doping hearing to be held in public in the United States.

REUTERS

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