MALIBU, Calif. &
"Did you take testosterone during the Tour de France?"
"Any banned substances?"
With that simple reply elicited by his attorney, Tour de France champion Floyd Landis declared under oath Saturday the position he has maintained for more than nine months, since the day anti-doping authorities accused him of taking synthetic testosterone to win the marquee cycling event last summer.
He denied taking testosterone or any other performance-enhancing substance at any time during a cycling career that began with his victory in a mountain-bike race near his rural Pennsylvania home at the age of 15. Landis, who was raised in a Mennonite household, now lives in Murrieta, Calif.
"Why should this arbitration panel believe you?" asked his attorney, Howard Jacobs.
"People are defined by their principles and how they make their decisions," replied Landis, who was wearing a gray suit and gold tie and spoke comfortably, albeit in such quiet tones that spectators in the packed hearing room edged forward in their seats to hear.
"That I earned what I got &
that was satisfying to me about bicycle racing. There wouldn't be any purpose to cheat and win the Tour, because I wouldn't be proud of it and that's just not what the goal was from the beginning."
In his testimony during a public arbitration hearing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Landis, 31, said that he was in the room when his former business manager, Will Geoghegan, made an anonymous phone call to former Tour de France champion Greg LeMond on Wednesday night, hours before LeMond was scheduled to testify against Landis.
LeMond said he regarded the call as a threat designed to keep him off the stand. Landis testified that he barely heard Geoghegan's end of the conversation, but did not know to whom he was talking or the subject of the conversation.
Landis testified for slightly more than an hour Saturday, the sixth day of his hearing before a panel of three arbitrators sitting in a moot court auditorium. If the panel upholds the accusation brought by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Landis will face a two-year suspension from competition and the loss of his Tour title. He is scheduled to be cross-examined by USADA lawyers Monday.
Landis' appearance was wedged amid testimony more typical of the — 1/2-week proceeding &
dry scientific analysis of laboratory reports purporting to establish that synthetic testosterone was found in his urine after Stage 17, a particularly punishing day of mountain cycling during the grueling three-week race. The three arbitrators &
San Francisco Bay Area lawyer Christopher Campbell, a former Olympic wrestler, and Canadian lawyers Richard McLaren and Patrice Brunet &
listened without interrupting.
After briefly describing his career in cycling and the climactic period of the Tour de France that gave rise to the doping accusation, Landis also touched on the most sensational development during the hearing: LeMond's testimony Thursday that Landis had implicitly confessed doping to him during a phone conversation last summer, and his disclosure of Geoghegan's call.
Landis said he was seated at the far end of a dining table from Geoghegan in a large hotel banquet room at the time of the call, shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday. Later that night, he visited Geoghegan's room.
"He looked terrible," Landis recalled. "He said he'd made a big mistake and didn't know what to do." He said they informed Landis' attorney, Maurice Suh, of the call the next morning. That afternoon, after LeMond's testimony, Landis fired Geoghegan as his business manager.
Landis denied that he had confessed doping to LeMond. The former champion testified Thursday that during a phone conversation last August he had urged Landis to "come clean" and had revealed to Landis that he had been sexually abused as a child to urge him not to keep hiding an unpleasant life secret. Geoghegan had alluded to that personal history in his call to LeMond last week.
Landis recalled that LeMond told him he believed he was guilty and that he should confess for the good of the sport. LeMond testified that Landis had answered, "What good would it do," as though admitting guilt.
Landis' recollection was different. "I told him that I didn't do it and it wouldn't make any sense for me to admit something I didn't do. If I did admit it, I asked him how that would help cycling."
Just before Landis' appearance, the arbitrators heard from perhaps the most distinguished scientific witness on USADA's list: Dr. Don H. Catlin, who recently retired as director of the UCLA Olympic Lab, perhaps the leading anti-doping lab accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA.
Asked by USADA attorney Richard Young what he had concluded after reading the laboratory record compiled by WADA's Paris lab, which issued the positive analysis of Landis' urine sample from Stage 17, Catlin replied: "No question about it, my opinion is that doping was going on. It's just inescapable."
But he began hedging almost immediately. He acknowledged that he would have found the lab sample positive "according to WADA criteria," but that UCLA's more rigorous standards for declaring a sample positive were "not met."
Landis' defense maintains that the Paris lab's standards for declaring doping violations are inappropriately loose and that it might be accusing many innocent athletes, including Landis, of doping. Under cross-examination, Catlin acknowledged that on at least one occasion, in 2003, his lab had declared a urine sample with analytical results similar to those of Landis to be "indeterminate." And he acknowledged that he found some of the Paris lab's work in the Landis analysis to be "mediocre," even "poor."
Under Jacobs' guidance, Landis described his performance during the pivotal Stages 16 and 17 of the 2006 Tour de France. Landis was leading the race on July 19, at the start of the 113-mile Stage 16, the hardest mountain stage of the race. But he said that he hadn't eaten properly to prepare for the stage, and "bonked," or ran out of steam, about eight or 10 miles before the end. He dropped to 11th place.
That night he had a beer and some slugs of Jack Daniel's bourbon while plotting how to recover time the next day. Later he would speculate that his ingestion of alcohol had affected his testosterone readings.
During Stage 17, Landis pursued an unusual and exceptionally aggressive racing strategy that made up most of his lost time. His surge back into contention, however, lent credibility to the subsequent contention that he had doped with testosterone around that time.
Asked by Jacobs to describe how the doping accusation has affected him, Landis said, "It's consumed my entire life since it happened."
"Do you think your reputation can ever be restored, even if this panel finds that the result was bogus?" Jacobs asked.
"No," Landis replied. "It will always be connected to me."
Landis: Drugs weren't part of Tour win
MALIBU, Calif. &