French to close loophole allowing Landis to compete in Tour

UCI/ASO conflict leads to potentially farcical situation

The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) on Wednesday moved to close a legal loophole which could allow disgraced US cyclist Floyd Landis to compete in the Tour de France while technically banned.

Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping and suspended for two years by the International Cycling Union (UCI) from any competitions they sanction. But the situation could arise whereby he could compete again if the Tour de France took place outside the calendar of the UCI, with whom the organisers of the leading Tours are in conflict. That is, unless he is also sanctioned by the AFLD, something the body is moving to rectify.

"The AFLD has decided to examine the case of Floyd Landis and we have notified his lawyers," AFLD president Pierre Bordry confirmed on Wednesday. "Landis was sanctioned for two years by the UCI. From that point he is barred from all competitions organised by the UCI or affiliated federations.

"But this is not the case for competitions organised in France outside this structure. It is for this reason that we are going to investigate the case."

If the Landis case was not decided on by the AFLD, a judicial loophole could allow him to compete. Landis will be called before the AFLD as part of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Bordry said that should the Tour de France decide to withdraw from the UCI calendar the AFLD would be able to carry out the necessary controls. "We have made the ASO (Tour de France organisers) aware that we will be there, that we have lots of ideas and are ready to assume our responsibilities."

The AFLD in February adjourned its Landis hearing until after the case was heard by the US anti-doping agency (USADA) on condition that the cyclist did not race in this year's Tour de France.

© AFP 2007

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