Floyd Landis may have lost his bid to keep his 2006 Tour de France title when the arbitrators made their 2-1 vote to deny his appeal and the rider was handed a two year suspension, but the decision has raised a number of flaws in the system which found him guilty of doping violations.
The length of the process bothered Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, who had to deal with the awkward situation of holding this year's race while the previous year's winner was still to be decided. "It's quite logical that Floyd Landis did everything he could to defend himself," Prudhomme told the Associated Press. "But of course, it would be quite normal in the future that cycling authorities could work on a system that would be quicker."
The arbitrators who decided Landis' fate were all critical of the LNDD laboratory, the lab responsible for testing Landis' samples. Landis' defense team put up a convincing case that the lab's practices were questionable, leading the panel to reject the initial testosterone:epitestosterone readings as unacceptable, as it was "not established in accordance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories".
Despite the rejection of the test results which were the reason behind further investigation using Carbon Isotope analysis, the panel decided that the Carbon Isotope ratio was sufficient to warrant a doping charge. Landis' lawyers were highly critical of this decision, saying, "The majority Panel's decision is a disappointment, but particularly so because it failed to address the joint impact of the many errors that the AFLD laboratory committed in rendering this false positive. To take each of these errors singly, is to ignore the total falsity of the result."
LNDD laboratory director Jacques de Ceaurriz said that he was unhappy with the criticism his organisation had been dealt. "We took a lot of flak," he told AP. "It was a little exaggerated. Things could have been handled better, without attacking the laboratory."
The opinion opened the doors for Landis to appeal to CAS, but it's something his family and friends would rather he didn't do. "I'm not a fighter and I really think he's proven his point," his mother Arlene Landis told AP. "He's made everything clear to the public. He's been open with everything.
"If it was me, I would just feel like I'm not being treated fairly, but I know in my heart that I won the race so let people make their own decisions."
Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied