By Mark Zalewski
Floyd Landis, the now dethroned 2006 Tour de France champion, announced Wednesday that he will appeal the decision of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) which refused to overturn the sanction for his positive drug test from the Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. This appeal is the final chance for Landis to have his sanction overturned.
"Knowing that the accusations against me are simply wrong, and having risked all my energy and resources – including those of my family, friends and supporters – to show clearly that I won the 2006 Tour de France fair and square, I will continue to fight for what I know is right," Landis said in a statement posted on the Floyd Fairness Fund web site.
Landis' hopes rest in what the lone dissenting arbitrator, Christopher Campbell, said in his opinion were critical flaws of the LNDD laboratory. The other two arbitrators Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren agreed that there were problems with the testing, even finding in favour of Landis regarding the charge of an elevated T/E ratio. However Brunet and McLaren agreed that the presence of exogenous testosterone in the samples was enough to side with USADA, despite the admitted problems with the laboratory.
"My hope is that the CAS panel will review my case on the basis of the facts and the science, and to approach my appeal from the principle that the anti-doping authorities must uphold the highest levels of appropriate process, technical skill, science and professional standards to pronounce judgment on matters that hold an athlete’s career, accomplishments and livelihood in the balance," the statement said.
"Doping in sport seems to continue to get worse under the current anti-doping system, and this is only a part of the huge amount of proof that the WADA/USADA system needs a total overhaul," the statement continued. "I will continue to work to clear my name and fight for change in the name of fairness and justice. No matter the final outcome of my case, there must be change in the current system if athletes can ever hope to compete on a level playing field and return to the joy and inspiration that sport can bring all of us."
"We are pleased to announce that Floyd will appeal his case before the Court of Arbitration of Sport," Landis' attorney Maurice Suh of the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said in a statement. "We have always believed in the evidence showing that the French laboratory's flawed techniques and conclusions resulted in a false positive result. This appeal is directed at having a fair-minded arbitration panel recognize those errors, and apply the facts and law to this case. If this is done, Floyd will have the justice that he seeks."
The decision by Landis to appeal the AAA decision to the CAS came with less than 24 hours before the filing deadline. The statement from Suh said that the appeal was filed in conjunction with lawyers in Switzerland, who will join Floyd's legal team, as the hearing is likely to take place at the CAS in Switzerland.
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