Exclusive: Landis responds to hacking sentence
American may appeal French verdict
In November of 2006 the French Chatenay-Malabry laboratory (LNDD) reported that their computer system had been hacked with a "Trojan Horse" virus. This malicious program's purpose was to gain access to the laboratory's confidential data regarding Landis doping case and either removed or altered the information.
Pierre Bordry, head of the French anti-doping Agency, told the Associated Press that the American had used the information hacked from the laboratory's computer for his defense. Landis and his coach Arnie Baker were accused of masterminding the attack and an arrest warrant was issued in France against the former pro cyclist.
According to Landis he never received any official communication from the French authorities regarding the arrest warrant. Regardless he was charged with computer hacking and receiving stolen property – the files from the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory.
Landis claims he has never received any official communications from the French courts and has only received information from various media sources. In an effort to give his side of the story his French attorney Emmanel Daoud read a statement written by Landis to the judge presiding over his case, Mme Prévost-Desprez.
In the letter Landis states that he received an anonymous package which contained documents from the LNDD.
"To this day I do not know who mailed them, how they were acquired, or why. In fact I'm not certain that these are even the documents in question in this current 'hacking' case but I'm led to believe that they may be as they are the only thing I received anonymously which appear to be from the LNDD lab," Landis wrote.
Continuing, "I am extremely hesitant to make any more of a statement than this for fear that I may be confusing other matters with what you are investigating due to the fact that my only source of information regarding this case is from the French media."
This morning Landis woke to an an e-mail from his French attorney's assistant Emilie Bailly.
"I'm sorry to inform you that the correctional Court judges that you were guilty of receiving stolen property (Article 321-1 of the French Criminal Code) and, therefore, sentenced you to 12 months of suspended imprisonment."
His attorney also writes saying that the French court also found him guilty of "fraudulent access in the LNDD automated data processing system, which is a misdemeanor punishable by Article 323-1of the French Criminal Code."
Article 321-1 is punishable by by five years' imprisonment and a fine of €375,000. The separate Article 323-1 is three years' imprisonment and a fine of €45,000.
Daoud advises Landis to appeal as not doing so would present the appearance of guilt.
While this sounds serious Landis wasn't concerned when he learned the situation.
"I woke up this morning, read the letter then thought, 'What am I going to have for breakfast?'"
With the suspended sentence hanging over him does he plan to go to France?
"What would that really involve? There's nothing I have to do. I'm not supposed to do anything. Let's go off on a little bit of a tangent - the prosecutor wanted me to serve 18 months (suspended sentence) but they decided to compromise and give me 12. It has absolutely no affect on me. What difference does it make if they give me 18 or 12 months?"
When pushed for an answer about the court's ruling he paused for a few seconds and replied, "With my record I always expect to be found guilty as that's all that ever happens to me. Of course the whole thing is confusing, but I assumed that since they were trying me in France they'd find me guilty."
Landis claims, like the arrest warrant that was leveled against him by the French authorities earlier this year, he never received any official paperwork from them regarding the computer hacking trial.
"I'm not claiming to have not received any paperwork – I'm stating facts! I had people look for the arrest warrant and they never found it. I never received anything from French authorities about the computer hacking case either."
Landis states that he's innocent and he has never hacked into or masterminded a computer hacking plan to infiltrate the LNDD. He does have the option to appeal the court's decision.
"I have to take a few days to reflect as I don't want to add to my anxiety a second time."
The 12-month suspended sentence means that Landis cannot break any laws in France or he would have to serve the time and pay the fine as decided by the court.
"Everything I've been through has been a civil dispute – this is a criminal matter."
When asked if he thinks the French authorities are biased against him replied, "Yes. They might think otherwise but yes, they're biased. I'm not saying I wasn't always innocent, but that's not the point."
Currently Landis is considering a return to racing his bike in the master category or even NASCAR. "I'm not sure what I want to do next."
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