After losing his anti-doping case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Floyd Landis took an unusual next step. In US Federal Court, he is challenging the CAS decision to uphold his positive doping test verdict. He and his lawyers are arguing that the arbitrators who heard his case had conflicts of interest, causing his hearing to be unfair.
According to ESPN.com, lawyers filed a motion "to vacate the June arbitrators' award in Landis' appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport" in a Los Angeles US District Court on Thursday.
In the motion, lawyers argued that all three arbitrators on the panel, including the one selected by Landis, ought to have revealed conflicts of interest that may have biased them. The conflicts, as defined by Landis' team, are that the arbitrators were selected from a short list of people who take turns serving in roles such as panellists and lawyers for clients appearing before panels. The switching of roles purportedly influences them to issue rulings that will benefit each other or will help anti-doping agencies with procuring future work and cases.
One of the arbitrators on the Landis case, Richard Young, told ESPN.com, that he followed CAS rules which specify that arbitrators may not be on panels when representing other clients in pending CAS cases.
The motion cited six CAS cases in which athletes faced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) while it was represented by Jan Paulsson, the single arbitrator on Landis' case that was picked by Landis' legal team. In addition to involvement with these other cases, Paulsson's law firm represented London during its ultimately successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games - a decision made by the IOC.
"Thus, members of the Freshfields firm, particularly Mr. Paulsson, have a significant economic incentive to espouse positions favorable to the IOC and little interest in embracing positions taken by an athlete with adverse interests," according to the motion.
Landis' motion also asks the court to overturn the US$100,000 fine for legal costs he was ordered to pay by the CAS panel. It argues that the fine was based on "unsworn statements by USADA's lawyer after the close of evidence, denying Mr. Landis a right to respond," and it called the award outside the "scope" of the mandate of the arbitrators. Finally, the motion asks for a jury trial.
Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but the title was subsequently taken away after he tested positive for testosterone and the American Arbitration Association upheld the decision. Landis received a two-year suspension, which will end January 29, 2009, leaving him free to race most of next season. However, USADA has told Landis he cannot race again until the $100,000 fine is paid. Landis is expected to race with Health Net in 2009.
What remains to be determined is whether the US Federal Court will consider itself to have jurisdiction over the case, which was decided at CAS headquarters 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