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Landis team manager says French trial 'ridiculous'

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 9:21 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Floyd Landis' team manager says it is "ridiculous" to think the American cyclist will face trial in France for hacking into a doping laboratory's computers.

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, is riding for the Orca Velo Merino team in the six-day Tour of Southland in New Zealand.

Team manager Wayne Hudson on Wednesday dismissed as "old news" reports that Landis and coach Arnie Baker might be tried in France for hacking the computer system of the Chatenay-Malabry lab, saying the American cyclist was "not losing any sleep" over it.

Landis was not available for comment after riding in the fourth and fifth stages of the nine-stage tour on Wednesday. He is fourth overall in the race, which concludes Saturday.

Hudson said the warrant against Landis and Baker was issued more than 18 months ago and came up this week for reconsideration.

Judge Thomas Cassuto, who sits in Nanterre, just west of Paris, decided Oct. 15 that Landis and Baker should face trial but no date was set.

"If nothing was done, (the warrant) would have lapsed. The question was whether the warrant should stay open or not," Hudson said.

"But the warrant was never served on Floyd. So the suggestion he will stand trial in France is a ridiculous statement because they still have to serve him."

The prosecutor's office had argued against sending Landis to trial, contending the inquiry failed to show he participated in the hacking or knowingly received internal lab documents that had been obtained fraudulently.

"It's about his having somehow received some information that may have been obtained illegally from a computer in a laboratory in France and there's been no substance to it," Hudson said. "The prosecutor doesn't want to push it but the judge disagreed. By making the decision the judge is keeping the case alive.

"(Landis) is annoyed that it has escalated unnecessarily when there's no substance to it. But he's not losing any sleep over it and is focused on the race."

The case is part of a sweeping investigation into computer hacking, triggered by a complaint filed by the Chatenay-Malabry lab denouncing intrusions into its computer system.

The Associated Press has seen judicial documents that say Baker is accused of having asked a consulting firm called Kargus Consultants to hack the lab's computers in order to discredit the doping tests showing Landis doped during the 2006 Tour.

French judicial officials also said Landis "could not fail to be aware" that the internal lab documents he had access to had been obtained fraudulently through hacking.

Landis is to be tried for "receiving in the fraudulous intrusion." A date for the trial has yet to be set.

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Associated Press Writer Pierre-Antoine Souchard in Paris contributed to this story.

© 2010 The Associated Press