Floyd Landis, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory for doping, makes his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Wednesday in a do-or-die bid to regain his title.
The 32-year-old American has spent about two million dollars in fighting the positive doping test for steroid testosterone on July 20, 2006, but lost a 2-1 ruling before a US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) arbitration panel last September.
The International Cycling Union stripped Landis of his 2006 crown after that verdict, awarding the title to Spain's Oscar Pereiro, who finished 57 seconds behind Landis in second place in the 2006 Tour.
Landis, whose ban runs until next January 29, will make his final stand in a Manhattan law office behind closed doors in a hearing expected to run five days and present much of the same evidence as was heard by the USADA panel last May.
The Swiss-based court eventually will announce its binding ruling from Lausanne.
Landis tested positive for synthetic testosterone after the penultimate 17th stage of the 2006 race. He fell back in stage 16 but rallied in stage 17 to reclaim almost eight minutes on his way to a now-disgraced victory moment.
Landis has maintained his innocence despite the positive test, blaming mistakes in testing procedure by the French laboratory for the result during his USADA hearing, which was open to the public.
"I am innocent of the doping allegations against me. I hope that the arbitrators of the case will fairly address the facts showing that the French laboratory made mistakes, which resulted in a false positive," Landis said after announcing his appeal to CAS last October.
"Knowing that the accusations against me are simply wrong, and having risked all my energy and resources - including those of my family, friends and supporters - to show clearly that I won the 2006 Tour de France fair and square, I will continue to fight for what I know is right."
Landis attorney Maurice Suh has said he thinks the evidence presented by his team to a US panel at the earlier hearing was enough to exonerate Landis and will have a chance to test that idea before a global panel.
"We've always believed in the evidence showing that the French laboratory's flawed techniques and conclusions resulted in a false positive result," Suh said. "This appeal is directed at having a fair-minded arbitration panel recognize those errors and apply the facts and law to this case. If this is done, Floyd will have the justice that he seeks."
The USADA arbitration panel noted several areas in which the French lab's handling of the test sample was improper but said the carbon ratio isotope test that showed Landis testing positive outweighed those flaws.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008