Dehydration blamed for Landis test result

First it was his dodgy hip, then it was too much booze the night before he won at Morzine, then it w

First it was his dodgy hip, then it was too much booze the night before he won at Morzine, then it w


One of Floyd Landis's legal team, Jos Maria Buxeda, claimed in Paris on Thursday that his client's elevated levels of testosterone in an A sample tested after stage 17 of the Tour de France "maybe due to a combination of dehydration and maximum effort". Buxeda was speaking at the start of the testing process on Landis's B sample, the result of which is expected to be announced on Saturday.

Members of the American rider's entourage have already claimed a number of possible reasons for his test results, including cortisone shots taken for pain in Landis's degenerating hip, drinking beer and whisky the night before stage 17 to Morzine, thyroid medication, and also his natural metabolism. The latest theory doesn't square with Landis's comments after his win in Morzine that the fact he went away on his own so early that day was an "advantage" because it allowed him to be near the team car and able to take as much liquid as he required.

However, an anti-doping expert has rejected the theory as a possible cause for Landis's test result. "In 25 years of experience in testing. such a huge increase in the level of testosterone cannot be accepted to come from any natural factors," said Professor Christiane Ayotte, director of Montreal's anti-doping laboratory. "If dehydration was the case, then marathon runners would be testing positive all the time, tennis players would be testing positive all the time. Dehydration is a medical condition that requires hospitalisation. It has been invoked in the past, but not one case - to my knowledge - has been successful in this argument."

Buxeda expects the results of Landis's B sample to repeat the original, but believes it does not conclude the case, and that it would not be enough to find Landis guilty. He also questions the legitimacy of the French lab that is testing the samples. "I wouldn't say that they know. I would say that they could presume. They do not have the certainty," Buxeda said.

The Chatenay Malabry lab where the testing is taking place is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee. Although Landis claims he is "certain" he hasn't ingested banned substances, a positive B test sample would be passed to the US Anti-Doping Agency and, if found guilty, could see him stripped of his Tour de France title and banned for two years.

Buxeda said that even if Landis's positive test is confirmed on Saturday, it could be "six to eight months" before the procedure that will follow tomorrow's announcement will be completed.

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