French anti-doping agency "unprejudiced" in Landis case

By Hedwig Kröner Following the announcement that an updated slide show, detailing the arguments used...

By Hedwig Kröner

Following the announcement that an updated slide show, detailing the arguments used by Landis' defense team in his doping case, will be held on Friday, November 17, in Tucson, Arizona, the head of the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), Pierre Bordry, has reacted to French newspaper Le Monde. Bordry explained that "an administrative sanctioning procedure has been engaged since September 20" against the former Phonak rider, even though the AFLD lacks the right to sanction non-French sportsmen who compete on French soil, unlike its institutional predecessor.

"According to article 24 of the law passed on April 5, 2006, the agency continues the work started by the Conseil de prévention et de lutte contre le dopage (CPLD)," he said. "And the whole of the procedure regarding Mr. Landis has been engaged by the CPLD. We therefore keep our sanctioning competence, on French soil, in the Landis case." The AFLD has taken the place of the CPLD since October 1, 2006.

Bordry continued by saying that the legal team around Landis did not request the file of the disciplinary procedure against the 2006 Tour de France winner. "On September 20, I wrote to Mr. Landis, communicating him the elements regarding his positive test results for testosterone provided by the laboratory. I told him that all the pieces were at his disposal, that he could consult all the documents at any given time and that we were at his disposal to hear the arguments of his defense. He confirmed the reception of the letter, but didn't get back to us since."

Assuring that he did not have any prejudice against the rider, Bordry meanwhile criticised that Landis chose to expose his line of defense publicly. "For his defense, M. Landis uses all the legal means that he wants. If he reveals that the laboratory made errors - formal, or substantial - it would be good if we were officially informed so that we could respond, on the form or on the substance (of the accusations). However, I note that, at the moment, Mr. Landis prefers to organise press conferences to give his arguments: we're moving out of normal procedure here.

"I would like that the members of the AFLD could hear the opinion of either side, in contradictory fashion. At this point, I am unprejudiced. My concern is to hear Mr. Landis' arguments, as he has a right to defend himself, but I need to really dispose of all of them and not only those which he distills in a press conference or on the Internet. If these requirements are met, I will suggest, within the framework of the investigation, to invite all persons whose hearings would be useful."

When asked which would be his reaction if the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which will judge the case in January, were to clear the rider because of the new elements brought to the case, Bordry said, "If the USADA doesn't sanction him, it means that it has legal reasons not to. We could have the same, because, and I repeat, we are unprejudiced."

Pierre Brodry was also the man who filed the official complaint with French police about the supposed violation of the central e-mail server of the Châtenay-Malabry anti-doping laboratory (LNDD). While French newspaper L'Equipe maintained in its Thursday edition that investigators had traced the fraudulent e-mails back to a person close to Landis, he said he had no confirmation of this. "I don't know anything about it at the moment," Bordry said. "I don't know who intruded (the server), nor why. I got the idea, while reading the documents, that somebody was trying to discredit the laboratory. But if I had any idea on the author, I would have indicated it in my complaint."

Bordry added that an audit of the laboratory's server security had been carried out since the intrusion, and that appropriate measures to protect the data had been taken.

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