Tour de France winner Landis tests positive

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By Patrick Vignal
Reuters
Thursday, July 27, 2006; 2:02 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has tested positive for the male sex hormone testosterone, the U.S. rider's Phonak team said on Thursday, dealing a savage blow to cycling's most prestigious race.

"The Phonak Cycling Team was notified yesterday by (world cycling body) the UCI of an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone ratio in the test made on Floyd Landis after stage 17 of the Tour de France," Phonak said in a team statement.

If Landis's B sample confirms the result, the 30-year-old American is certain to be stripped of his victory, becoming the first Tour winner to be disqualified for doping.

Spaniard Pedro Delgado tested positive for a masking agent on his way to Tour victory in 1988 but was allowed to continue in the event because the substance was not on UCI's list of banned products then.

If Landis were disqualified, Spain's Oscar Pereiro, who finished second in the overall standings, would be declared the winner.

"Until the UCI confirm it, it isn't possible to say anything, despite what Phonak have said," Pereiro told the Web site of sports daily AS.

"In any case, at the moment I have a bittersweet feeling because it is bad news for cycling, and I would prefer to remain second and that they don't confirm the positive."

INCREDIBLE COMEBACK

In the 17th stage, a grueling ride to Morzine in the French Alps, Landis produced an incredible comeback a day after a disastrous showing had appeared to ruin his chances of victory.

The rider from Pennsylvania crossed the line over five minutes ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sastre and went on to win the race in Paris on Sunday, succeeding compatriot Lance Armstrong who retired last year after winning the Tour a record seven times.

Phonak said Landis would not ride until the matter had been clarified and if the B sample confirmed the positive result, the rider would be dismissed.

"The team management and the rider were both totally surprised by this physiological result," Phonak added.


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