Day three of the Floyd Landis anti-doping hearing in California was marked by bitter and protracted arguments between prosecution and defence lawyers about access to documentation.
The Landis legal team did, however, score some notable successes during its questioning of Cynthia Mongongu, a supervisory analytical chemist at the Laboratoire National de Dpistage du Dopage (LNDD) outside Paris, where the rider's urine samples were tested. The hearing was told how the machine used to conduct the test on Landis' 'B' samples was itself subjected to a mandatory, automated, seven hour calibration test prior to use.
Mongongu was asked to explain why there was an unexplained five hour gap between two stages in this test. She explained that there had been a problem, forcing her to intervene and conduct part of the calibration process manually. Under WADA rules such an intervention should have been accompanied by documentation, but the chemist admitted that she did not follow this protocol.
Also damaging to the USADA's case was a further admission by Mongongu that she did not document a number of procedures in her analysis of Landis' Stage 17 sample - the Alpine stage which saw his astonishing performance in overhauling an eight minute deficit. Mongongu was also asked if she was the source of the leak to l'Equipe which saw the French sports newspaper reporting the positive results of Landis' 'B' samples in April, the day after testing occurred.
Mongongu denied that she leaked the test results and said she did not know who has spoken to the newspaper. The nine day hearing at the Pepperdine University near Malibu in California is due to see two former Tour winners take the stand in coming days. Greg LeMond will testify for the USADA and Eddy Merckx will form part of Landis' defence.
At the end of the process, a three man arbitration panel will make a decision on whether or not to uphold Landis' two-year suspension and his loss of the Tour de France title. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.