• Thu November 16 2006
  • Posted Nov 16, 2006
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Floyd Landis's claims of innocence in the face of a doping charge have been boosted by reports the French anti-doping laboratory that tested his urine samples had made an administrative error, the American cyclist's spokesman said on Wednesday. A report in French daily Le Monde that a sample had been mislabeled helped validate the Landis team's claims that there is enough evidence to prove his innocence, Michael Henson said. The reported 'administrative error' "confirms one of the many errors that Floyd and his defense team brought to public attention in early October," Henson wrote in an email to Reuters. "The correct identification of an athlete's sample is fundamental to the integrity of the results management process." The French anti-doping laboratory (LNDD) in Chatenay-Malabry, on the outskirts of Paris, has come under intense scrutiny after its computer system was breached and Le Monde reported that a clerical error had been made in the handling of Landis's samples. According to the report, the lab made an administrative error, labeling Landis's B sample with the wrong number. Tests on the rider's two samples indicated that he had elevated levels of testosterone in his system when he won the Tour de France in July. "While the whole of the Landis defense does not rest on this single mistake, today's news validates our claim that there is more than enough fact-based evidence in the public material to prove Floyd's innocence," Henson continued. "We requested last month additional testing information and documentation that is within the guidelines established by (World Anti-Doping Agency) WADA, but that request has recently been denied by (United States Anti-Doping Agency) USADA." WADA chief Dick Pound said, however, that he retained complete confidence in the French laboratory. Pound played down the mistake, saying it did not compromise the results and added that he was more concerned about hackers' ability to obtain confidential test results and information. Big problem "For me, the big problem is the activities of hackers who entered into the system without permission, possibly against the law," Pound told reporters in a teleconference before WADA's executive committee meeting this weekend. "The code contemplates minor errors that don't affect the validity of analysis. Ideally, you don't want there to be any kind of errors, administrative or otherwise that may get corrected in the process. "We just have to wait and see. It's kind of an unusual situation whereby it's entirely possible a lot of this information has been illegally obtained." Landis denies taking performance-enhancing drugs and has accused the French laboratory of making numerous mistakes, breaking anonymity rules and mislabeling his samples. The American cyclist will make his case during a hearing by the American Arbitration Association early next year.

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