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The Landis Case: Expect no quick resolution

Don’t expect any quick resolutions in the Floyd Landis doping case if his counter-analysis comes back as positive. The counter-analysis for the follow-up “B” sample is expected as early as this week, but the entire disciplinary and appeal process could last until late this year, meaning Landis will likely officially retain his Tour de France crown until that process is completed. According to the UCI, the process is well-defined if the 30-year-old returns a positive counter-analysis from samples taken after Stage 17 into Morzine of the Tour de France. Because Landis races with an American

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By Andrew Hood

Don’t expect any quick resolutions in the Floyd Landis doping case if his counter-analysis comes back as positive.

The counter-analysis for the follow-up “B” sample is expected as early as this week, but the entire disciplinary and appeal process could last until late this year, meaning Landis will likely officially retain his Tour de France crown until that process is completed.

According to the UCI, the process is well-defined if the 30-year-old returns a positive counter-analysis from samples taken after Stage 17 into Morzine of the Tour de France.

Because Landis races with an American license, any disciplinary action will be handled by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency located in Colorado Springs. According to rules, the agency has up to one month to make a decision after being notified of a positive doping case.

USADA follows strict no-comment policy on active cases, a stance reaffirmed by a message posted by CEO Terry Madden on the agency’s web page over the weekend.

“USADA will not comment on the facts of any active case since the rules we follow allow for a full and fair process prior to the details of any case being made public,” Madden said. “Anyone accused of a doping violation has a right to have his or her case determined on the evidence through the established process and not on any other basis.

“With that said, USADA’s mission is to ensure the integrity of sport and to protect the right of clean athletes to compete on a drug-free playing field. Doping is an attack on our fundamental values. We all should be angry when an athlete, coach or any person of authority in sport participates in, or permits, doping.”

Landis has denied taking banned doping substance and insists he that the imbalance of his testosterone and epitestosterone levels is natural and could be due to low levels of epitestosterone instead of high levels of testosterone. His lawyers said he will undergo a series of endocrine tests to try to demonstrate that.

Under WADA code, Landis faces a two-year racing ban and the loss of his Tour crown if his T/E ratio is shown to be unnatural or it the testosterone is from an outside source.

At this point, Landis could officially lose his Tour victory and second-place finisher Oscar Pereiro would be proclaimed winner.

Depending on what USADA decides, both the UCI and Landis have one month file an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Any CAS appeal could take several weeks to months.

According to sources at the UCI, the entire process could take several months, with the final CAS appeal not likely to be concluded “until sometime this autumn.”

So far, the test results are moving much faster than in a similar case involving Roberto Heras, whose positive doping test for EPO was not revealed until two months after the conclusion of the 2005 Vuelta a España.

Heras was eventually stripped of his Vuelta crown and banned for two years by the Spanish cycling federation in February 2006. Like Heras, Landis would also face an additional two-year exclusion from riding on a ProTour team, meaning that the American would be nearing the end of his career before he could ride in another major Tour.