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SAN DIEGO, California (AFP) — Floyd Landis, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, on Friday admitted that he defrauded those who donated money for his defense and agreed to pay more than $478,000 in restitution.
With the deal the 36-year-old former pro cyclist avoided jail time, but if he fails to come up with the money he could still end up behind bars, prosecutor Phillip Halpern said Friday.
“Restitution is an integral part of this agreement,” Halpern told Magistrate Judge Jan Adler.
After Landis pleaded guilty before Adler to a charge of wire fraud, and promised to pay back his victims, the judge allowed him to remain free.
The fraud charges against him will be dismissed in three years if he makes restitution and meets other terms of the agreement, prosecutors said.
Landis initially denied using synthetic testosterone and solicited donations to the “Floyd Fairness Fund” to finance his battle to clear his name. The donations, as well as other funds, were raised at town hall-type meetings, via online videos, charity rides and other ways.
According to court records, Landis spent more than $2 million while fighting sanctions.
Last October, a prosecutor in a computer hacking case against Landis in France called for an 18-month suspended prison sentence for the disgraced cyclist.
Landis and former coach Arnie Baker were accused of illegally obtaining documents from a French anti-doping laboratory computer in a bid to contest his positive dope-test results from stage 16 of the 2006 Tour de France.
Landis finally confessed to doping in 2010, at the same time leveling accusations against former teammate Lance Armstrong that helped spark a federal investigation of the seven-time Tour de France champion.
The federal probe of Armstrong ended in February with no criminal charges, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency continued to press the case against him and on Friday declared he was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour titles for allegedly doping and conspiring with others to carry out a doping program.
USADA’s announcement came a day after Armstrong said he wouldn’t attempt to clear himself of the charges through independent arbitration.