Arrest warrant issued for Landis in France

Floyd Landis in action during the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Floyd Landis in action during the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)

An arrest warrant for Floyd Landis was issued late last month in France. The American rider is charged in connection with the computer hacking of an anti-doping laboratory. According to Agency France Presse, the warrant is valid for France, suggesting he will only be arrested if he steps foot on French soil.

According to Pierre Bordry, head of the French Anti-Doping Agency, the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Nanterre issued the warrant on January 28.

Landis tested positive for testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France. His doping controls were handled by the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory. In November 2006, the lab reported that its computer systems had been infected with a "Trojan Horse" virus, which was used by someone to access the lab's confidential documents. The lab said that data had been removed or changed, allegedly in an attempt to discredit the work of the organisation.

An email carrying the virus was alleged to have been sent from a computer with the same IP address as that of Landis' coach Arnie Baker. Both Landis and Baker denied any involvement in the hacking, but authorities maintain that the pair made use of pilfered documents in Landis' defense argument.

"Landis used the hacked files for his defense, that's how we discovered the whole scheme," Bordry said to the Associated Press. "He wanted to show that the lab made mistakes in the handling of the tests."

The investigation by the French Interior Ministry last year led to the arrest of a French national living in Morocco named Alain Quiros, who confessed to hacking into the lab, according to the New York Times. He said he'd been paid several thousand euros to hack into the AFLD computer as well as several other European corporations including Greenpeace France - the hacking scheme was instigated by a former French intelligence agent Thierry Lorho, head of Kargus Consultants.

Lorho reportedly handed off the data lifted from the lab computer to a man named Jean-François Dominguez, who then delivered it to another person who has not yet been identified. The confidential data then made its way to the news media and was used by Landis and Baker to form the basis of his defense against charges of doping.

Last spring, the French subpoenaed Landis and his coach Arnie Baker to travel to France and testify on this matter. Neither of them went to France.

"Apparently the judge traced the case back to the beginning," Bordry said. "I can't say I'm happy with this news because I would have preferred there was no Landis case."

Bordry isn't the only one who wishes there never was a Landis case. According to the AFP report, preventing Landis' defense from succeeding cost the World Anti-doping Agency nearly its entire 1.8 million dollar legal budget on the case.

Cyclingnews will have more on this story as it develops.

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