The B sample of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has tested positive for testosterone, the ICU said Saturday. He has been fired by his team, Phonak, and the Tour no longer recognizes him as champ.
PARIS -- Tour de France champion Floyd Landis' backup urine sample confirmed high levels of testosterone, cycling's governing body said Saturday.
Following the results of the "B" sample, Landis was fired by his Swiss team, Phonak. He also faces a two-year ban from USA Cycling, which is responsible for sanctions against the American rider.
"The analysis of the sample B of Floyd Landis' urine has confirmed the result of an adverse analytical finding notified by the anti-doping laboratory of Paris on 26th July, following the analysis of the sample A,'' the International Cycling Union said, referring to the Chatenay-Malabry lab outside Paris.
"Landis will be dismissed without notice for violating the teams internal Code of Ethics,'' Phonak said in a statement. "Landis will continue to have legal options to contest the findings. However, this will be his personal affair, and the Phonak team will no longer be involved in that.''
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said Landis no longer was considered the race winner, but the decision to strip him of his title rests with the UCI.
"It goes without saying that for us Floyd Landis is no longer the winner of the 2006 Tour de France,'' Prudhomme told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Prudhomme said runner-up Oscar Pereiro of Spain would be the likely new winner.
"We can't imagine a different outcome,'' Prudhomme said.
The confirmed test sets off what could now be months of appeals and arguments by Landis, who claims the positive finding was due to naturally high testosterone levels. He has repeatedly declared his innocence and vowed to fight the allegations -- and did so again Saturday.
"I have never taken any banned substance, including testosterone,'' Landis said in a statement. "I was the strongest man at the Tour de France, and that is why I am the champion.
"I will fight these charges with the same determination and intensity that I bring to my training and racing. It is now my goal to clear my name and restore what I worked so hard to achieve.''
If found guilty, Landis would become the first winner in the 103-year history of cycling's premier race to lose his Tour crown over doping allegations.
"It's incredibly disappointing,'' said three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond by phone Saturday from the starting line at the Pan Mass Challenge in Sturbridge, Mass. "I don't think he has much chance at all to try to prove his innocence.''
Landis' lawyer is preparing to take the case to arbitration, said a statement issued by his spokesman, Michael Henson.
The two-tiered analysis at the Chatenay-Malabry lab, which is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, is designed to eliminate the chance for mistakes in the first test.
Henson said this week that the rider had tested positive for an testosterone-epitestosterone ratio of 11:1 -- well above the 4:1 limit.
On Friday, Henson said Landis was in the San Diego area, but no further details of his whereabouts were given.
The tests were conducted on urine samples drawn July 20 after Landis' stage victory in a grueling Alpine leg of the Tour, when he clawed back nearly eight minutes against then-leader Pereiro -- and back into contention to win the three-week race.
The UCI is expected to refer the case to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for handling. The process could take months, possibly with appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Landis' Spanish lawyer, Jose Maria Buxeda, has said he still believes Landis will prove his innocence.
"He's pretty sure we will be able to prove … that it is due to natural causes,'' Buxeda said.
Landis, a 30-year-old former mountain biker, says he was tested eight other times during the three-week tour and those results came back negative.
"I'm going to do my best to defend my dignity and my innocence,'' he said on CNN's "Larry King Live'' last week.
Landis has hired high-profile American lawyer Howard Jacobs, who has represented several athletes in doping cases.
Jacobs plans to go after the UCI for allegedly leaking information regarding the sample testing.
Earlier this week, a New York Times report cited a source from the UCI saying that a second analysis of Landis' "A'' sample by carbon isotope ratio testing had detected synthetic testosterone -- meaning it was ingested.
"I call on the UCI to start following its own rules and to allow this process to proceed without the further taint of public comment by UCI officials,'' Jacobs said in a statement Saturday.
"The anti-doping process must be free from the perception that sports federations and anti-doping authorities, who hold great political and financial sway over sport, are attempting to influence the outcome of a pending case by issuing inappropriate public comments.''
Since the Phonak team was informed of the positive test on July 27, Landis and his defense team have offered varying explanations as to the high testosterone reading -- including cortisone shots taken for pain in Landis' degenerating hip; drinking beer and whiskey the night before; thyroid medication; and his natural metabolism.
Another theory -- dehydration -- was rebuffed by anti-doping experts and contrasted with events during stage 17 itself when Landis rode alone for hours.
"When I heard it was synthetic hormone, it is almost impossible to be caused by natural events. It's kind of a downer,'' said LeMond. ``I feel for Floyd's family. I hope Floyd will come clean on it and help the sport. We need to figure out how to clean the sport up and we need the help of Floyd.
"He's a victim that needs to be held accountable. Just by pinpointing him is not enough. He needs to tell who did it, how they did it.''