By Andrew Hood
Speculation and rumors are flying over which name might be behind the positive doping test from the Tour de France after overall winner Floyd Landis pulled out of a pair of lucrative post-Tour criteriums Wednesday and Thursday.
Protocol designed to protect the anonymity of involved parties until a second “B” sample can confirm a doping violation hasn’t stopped media around the globe from going into overdrive, many suggesting that the unnamed rider could well be Landis.
The UCI revealed Wednesday that the anti-doping laboratory at Châtenay-Malabry in Paris discovered an “adverse analytical finding” in a doping control taken during the 93rd Tour.
“The adverse analytical finding received on Wednesday morning relates to the first analysis and will have to be confirmed either by a counter-analysis required by the rider, or by the fact that the rider renounces to that counter analysis,” the UCI statement said.
A positive “A” sample is only the first step in the process and does not constitute proof of any rider’s use of performance-enhancing substances.
The UCI statement said the rider, his team, national federation and national anti-doping agency have all been contacted in light of the test results. The Associated Press quoted USA Cycling spokesman Andy Lee as saying the organization had not been contacted by the UCI, indicating that the rider involved isn’t Landis.
VeloNews’s efforts to reach USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson, who is attending the world BMX championships in Brazil, were unsuccessful. A spokesman for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency declined to comment on the Tour case or any other pending matters appearing before the agency.
The French wire service AFP reported that the German federation was also not contacted, indicating that T-Mobile’s third-place finisher, Andreas Klöden, is not involved.
The London Times reported that sources close to the lab revealed that the rider involved showed high levels of testosterone, which would trigger a positive doping test. The test, the paper reported, was conducted after the Tour’s 17th stage to Morzine. Other media reports suggest that the test showed positive indications for a stimulant.
Tour spokesman Mathieu Desplats told VeloNews on Thursday morning that race organizers “have no new information and we’re waiting for notification from anti-doping authorities.”
Other sources within the Tour de France organization told the Spanish sports daily AS that the rider involved “is not a Spanish or French racer.”
Landis, meanwhile, pulled out of two post-Tour criteriums and sudden departure has sent tongues a wagging across the continent.
After winning a criterium in Holland on Tuesday, the 30-year-old skipped a Wednesday criterium in Chaam.
The ANP Dutch news agency said Landis pulled out of the race in Chaam on Wednesday evening after medical advice but this reason for not appearing was not confirmed by race organizers. Agent John van den Akker, who organised Landis’s appearance at the race said he was annoyed by the situation.
“We have tried to contact Floyd and his manager but we have not been able to,” van den Akker told ANP. “We are very annoyed. We have invested a lot of money (to ensure his appearance) and we would have expected some kind of explanation.”
Landis also withdrew from Thursday’s Grand Prix Jyske Bank race, the Danish organisers said in a statement.
“It is with great regret that we announce Floyd Landis will not be appearing in the race,” Danish organizers said in a statement.
There have been no official team statements on where Landis is or why he cancelled the criterium appearances. Phonak teammate Robert Hunter told Belgian journalists Landis pulled out because of “pain in his hip.”
Landis is expected to have hip reconstruction surgery in the coming weeks, but was hoping to make the most of his surprising Tour victory with appearances in lucrative, post-Tour criteriums worth upwards of $100,000 per appearance.
Calls by VeloNews to Landis, Phonak team manager John Lelangue and Phonak spokesman Georges Luchinger were not returned Wednesday or Thursday. Landis is still scheduled to appear Friday on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in Los Angeles.
According to UCI anti-doping protocol, the second, follow-up test will be carried out in the coming days. The rider involved has the right to witness the follow-up test.