Fans of 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis have stumped up their hard earned cash to buy the American's signature and a photo opportunity with the 31 year-old, with Landis reportedly charging fans 25 dollars for the privilege at a Dallas bicycle shop. The outlandish fundraising idea comes as he attempts to raise the funds to continue a legal battle to clear his name.
"We can't undo the damage that's been done. We can't fix it," Landis told AFP. "But we don't want the next person to have to go through this."
The former Phonak rider was found to have a higher than allowed testosterone to epitestosterone ratio after his superhuman storm through Stage 17 of last year's Tour de France.
The French anti-doping laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry commenced analysis of the B-samples taken from Landis during the 2006 Tour de France earlier this week. The samples, which are being analysed at the request of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), were found to be negative during the A-sample analysis, and were taken on different days that the one sample which was found to have a high testosterone to epitestosterone ratio.
Landis and his lawyers fought the testing of the B-samples, but a panel granted USADA its request to have the analysis performed at the Châtenay-Malabry lab last week. The results cannot be used to pursue any new doping charges against Landis should they come back positive, but Landis objected to the testing being performed at the same lab that he says botched the original test results.
"I didn't do anything to cause this," Landis said at the store appearance. "I was clearly convicted in the court of public opinion."
In the meantime Landis will continue to raise funds for his legal bills, which have reportedly exceeded one million dollars.