Landis character attacked

Landis character attacked
By Eurosport

23/05/2007 at 09:03Updated

Floyd Landis' character - a key aspect of his defence at his arbitration hearing - comes under attack from US Anti-Doping Agency lawyers.

Under cross-examination by USADA attorney Matt Barnett, the Tour de France champion was asked why he delayed firing his business manager Will Geoghegan for making a menacing phone call last week to three-times Tour winner Greg LeMond.

Barnett also called into question an internet posting placed in November by Landis in response to what he felt were unfair comments made by fellow American LeMond.

Landis, battling to keep his 2006 Tour title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone, made his character a central part of his defence when he gave testimony in his nine-day hearing at Pepperdine University on Saturday.

However, he was pressured by Barnett to explain why he sacked Geoghegan on Thursday afternoon when the phone call had been made to LeMond the previous night.

"In hindsight, we probably should have fired him immediately," said Landis.

Geoghegan's dismissal was announced shortly after LeMond rocked the hearing by revealing he had been sexually abused as a child and that the Landis camp had used that information to try to prevent him testifying.

Landis, who denied knowing Geoghegan had contacted LeMond despite being with his former manager in the same hotel dining room, said he was appalled by the call.

Barnett asked Landis why he had threatened to divulge information about LeMond in an internet posting last November after the two had shared a telephone call three months earlier.

"LeMond] spoke [in the press] about his personal opinion that everyone who has won the Tour since him has been doped," Landis said of what sparked his internet posting.

"[The posting] wasn't related to his being sexually abused - it was a message to him to please stop."

Landis, who learned of LeMond's sexual abuse during their phone call, wrote in the posting: "The facts that he divulged to me... would damage his character severely and I would rather not do what has been done to me.

"However, if he ever opens his mouth again and the word Floyd comes out, I will tell you all some things that you will wish you didn't know."

After his uncomfortable morning grilling, Landis had reason to smile in the afternoon when Briton Simon Davis lambasted the French laboratory that analysed the Tour champion's urine samples.

Davis, an expert in machines used for carbon-isotope ratio testing, was an observer at the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory (LNDD) outside Paris when Landis's samples were re-tested there in April.

"I think they are totally unreliable," Davis said of the data produced by the LNDD.

Asked by Landis's attorney Maurice Suh to assess the ability of the LNDD technicians, he replied: "They clearly did not understand the instrument.

"I had to help them load the reprocessed data on the machine. They tried to help each other during the processing and did not seem to know how the software worked."