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Tour de France Champion Suspected of Doping Gets Hearing

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency held hearings on allegations that 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis used steroids. The NewsHour looks at his case and the broader issue of steroids in sports.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Soon after Floyd Landis won cycling's most prestigious event last summer, the Tour de France, news surfaced that he had tested positive for synthetic testosterone, a banned drug. Landis insisted he never took any performance-enhancing drugs.

  • FLOYD LANDIS, Cyclist:

    I declare convincingly and categorically that my winning the Tour de France has been exclusively due to many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Landis has been fighting the charges ever since. Over the last 10 days, he's appeared before an arbitration hearing with the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency to assess whether he violated rules. He could become the first tour winner in history to be stripped of the title for doping. The hearing, which featured dramatic testimony and scandalous subplots, wrapped up yesterday in Malibu, California.

    And for more, we turn to Tom Goldman, sports correspondent for National Public Radio. He's been covering the Landis hearing and has reported on sports doping since 1990. He joins us from Portland, Oregon.

    Tom, it sound as though one side was saying, "The science and facts are clear," while the other side was saying, "Maybe so, but the testing itself was flawed." Is that a way to look at it?

  • TOM GOLDMAN, National Public Radio:

    Yes, that is, Jeff. The main thing — and it was summarized in the closing arguments yesterday — was the Landis side basically attacked the French lab that carried out the analysis on Floyd Landis' urine samples. The lawyer said there were mistakes, errors in identification, errors in quality control, errors all the way through. And he said, "If it wasn't so awful, it would be funny."

    On the other side, the prosecution, the attorneys for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said the lab is one of the best in the world and they carried out the procedures properly. Floyd Landis, in fact, did dope when he tested positive for banned synthetic testosterone and, in their mind, it's a slam-dunk case.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The fact that this is playing out in public is unusual, isn't it?

  • TOM GOLDMAN:

    It is unusual. Athletes have always had the opportunity to have their cases heard in the open, but usually they haven't. And this is the first one since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has been prosecuting drug cases since the year 2000, this is the first time that an athlete has chosen to do it. And it's been part of Floyd Landis' very public campaign.

    I mean, what's unique about this case — there are several things that are unique, that it's an open hearing — but also rarely, if ever, does an athlete accused of doping so vociferously, so aggressively try and publicly prove his innocence and claim publicly that he's innocent.

    I mean, Floyd Landis not only had the open hearing, but he presented his defense online. He's been having town hall meetings throughout the country to raise funds for his defense, very interesting in that he's been so aggressive in that way.

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