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Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has denied using testosterone, the product for which it was revealed on Thursday he had tested positive for after stage 17 of the race. Speaking to Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy, Landis replied "No, c'mon man," when asked if he had used testosterone.
The American stressed that the "unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone" he was recorded with is not the same as a positive test. He is being advised by Spanish doctor Luis Hernandez, who has experience of dealing with similar cases where elevated levels of testosterone have been recorded. "In hundreds of cases, no one's ever lost one," said Landis.
Landis, though, revealed his hopes of his B sample coming up negative are not high. "I can't be hopeful," he said. "I'm a realist." He added: "I wouldn't hold it against somebody if they don't believe me."
Landis explained that his next step, assuming another positive test, will be to submit himself to an endocrine test that should show whether he simply has naturally high levels of testosterone in his blood. He suggested that the cortisone he has been taking for his injured hip may have had some effect on the test results. He also explained: "I've had a thyroid condition for the last year or so and have been taking small amounts of thyroid hormone. It's an oral dose, once a day." That may also have skewed the results, he suggested.
He also asked the press to leave his family out of the current furore. His mother, Arlene, has been forced to leave the family home by the demands of the press. "I know it's their job, but they need to leave her out of this," he said.
Landis is still being supported by Phonak team boss John Lelangue, but Lelangue said he would be forced to sack the American if the B test also turns out to be positive. "We are surprised by the result but we will apply the procedure of the ethics code that we have signed," said Lelangue. "If the result from the B sample confirms the first result, there will be dismissal."
Greg Lemond, the first American winner of the Tour, who said at the weekend he had been enthralled by Landis's performance, described himself as "devastated and extremely disappointed" on hearing the news. "I can't imagine the disappointment for Floyd and his family. I really did believe Floyd was clean. The problem is the sport is corrupt and it corrupts everybody. I still believe it was one of the cleanest Tours ever. But is it 100 per cent clean? No," Lemond told AFP.
"You will always find riders who transgress the laws. I really did believe Floyd was not among them, that he was clean. Hopefully, he will be able to step up and tell the truth."
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