Landis maintains his innocence
American cyclist Floyd Landis said he's been treated unfairly by cycling's international governing body in an article published in Monday's USA Today.
Landis took aim at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency in his first interview since a second drug test showed he had synthetic testosterone in his body during his Tour de France victory.
Landis told the newspaper that he can't properly defend himself against charges he used illegal doping products to win the 2006 Tour de France.
"There's some kind of agenda there. I just don't know what it is," Landis said.
It was during Stage 17 of this year's Tour that Landis launched an improbable comeback. One day earlier, Landis faltered while climbing to La Toussuire in the final kilometres of Stage 16.
He ended up losing the stage by 10 minutes and fell from first to 11th place overall, ending up eight minutes behind leader Oscar Pereiro of Spain. At that point, the American's quest for the Tour crown appeared to be over.
But in one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Tour, Landis embarked on a 120-kilometre solo breakaway to win Stage 17 by a whopping six minutes. That remarkable effort pushed him up to third in the overall standings as he whittled Pereiro's lead to a mere 30 seconds.
Landis then finished third in Stage 19, a 57-kilometre individual time trial, to leapfrog Pereiro and reclaim the yellow jersey as overall leader, setting the stage for the final leg of the three-week race in Paris where he was crowned champion, succeeding seven-time winner Lance Armstrong.
"I put in more than 20,000 kilometres of training for the Tour. I won the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia," Landis told USA Today. "I was tested eight times at the Tour de France, four times before that stage and three times after, including three blood tests.
"Only one came back positive. Nobody in their right mind would take testosterone just once. It doesn't work that way."
Landis maintains that he produces naturally high levels of testosterone, but Pierre Bordry, who heads the French anti-doping council, said the anti-doping lab near Paris found that testosterone in the rider's urine samples came from an outside source.
Landis said the media knew the result of each of his urine samples before he did, including the original July 27 revelation of the "A" sample positive. Saturday, cycling's world governing body announced the backup "B" sample also was positive.
Landis will undergo hip replacement surgery in about two weeks and will then prepare for a hearing before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
"Something bad happened to me," Landis said, "but bicycle racing is the most beautiful sport in the world. I want to remain part of it."
With files from Associated Press