French judge issues arrest warrant for Landis

A French judge has issued an international arrest warrant for Floyd Landis for allegedly hacking into a French anti-doping lab's computer system, the French anti-doping agency announced Friday.

By Agence France Presse

A French judge has issued an arrest warrant for Floyd Landis for allegedly hacking into a French anti-doping lab’s computer system, the president of the French anti-doping agency told AFP Friday.

The investigation into the alleged hacking began in 2006.

Pierre Bordry, head of the French agency, told AFP Landis used documents that were “illegally hacked from the authority’s laboratory computer system” in his defense after he was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win following a positive test for drugs. A French judge issued the warrant on January 28 in response to the American’s failure to answer a summons issued in November, Bordry said.

According to Bordry, the warrant applies to those countries, including the U.S., with which France has an extradition agreement. However, French authorities have since said that the warrant applies only to French national territory.

The judge intends to ask him “to explain how he came to obtain certain information that was used in his defense,” added Bordry.

Landis did not immediately return a message VeloNews left on his cell phone voice mail. But in an e-mail to The Los Angeles Times, he denied the hacking allegation and said no warrant had been served against him.

“I can’t speak for Arnie (Baker), but no attempt has been made to formally contact me,” Landis said in the e-mail. “It appears to be another case of fabricated evidence by a French lab who is still upset a United States citizen believed he should have the right to face his accusers and defend himself.” Baker, a former American rider and cycling coach for whom an arrest warrant was issued in November, is also being sought by the French authorities in connection with the affair.

Landis tested positive for a skewed testosterone-epitestosterone ratio following the 17th stage of the 2006 edition of the Tour de France. He had won that stage in spectacular fashion with a solo attack that virtually secured him the yellow jersey only 24 hours after a dramatic collapse on stage 16.

But he was stripped of his Tour win in September 2007, more than a year after he crossed the finishing line on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. He was banned from racing for two years, making his return in January 2009.

During that time he carried on the legal fight to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport’s highest appeal authority, which threw out his case in June 2008 and ordered him to pay $100,000 in judicial costs to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The accusation of hacking first arose when the AFLD lodged legal proceedings on November 7, 2006, after becoming aware that documents belonging to them had been used in Landis’ defense.

According to sources close to the inquiry the electronic paper trail led them to Baker’s computer address.

Contacted by VeloNews in April of last year, Baker denied involvement in the alleged attempts to break into the lab’s computer system.

“I did not hack into, nor did I help or hire anyone to hack into the LNDD computer system,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Landis continues to race. He competed in the Tour of the Bahamas in January and this past weekend raced in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.