November 21, 2007 / 1:44 AM / 12 years ago

Landis files appeal to CAS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disgraced U.S. rider Floyd Landis filed his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday, his final attempt to overturn a two-year doping ban that cost him the 2006 Tour de France title.

U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis attends an arbitration hearing in Malibu, California, in this file photo from May 22, 2007. REUTERS/Max Morse

American Landis is appealing the ruling by an arbitration panel in September which upheld findings by a French laboratory that he had used synthetic testosterone in winning the 2006 Tour.

“We welcome the opportunity to present this case to CAS,” Maurice Suh, Landis’s lawyer, said in a statement to Reuters.

“We will prove, once again, that the French laboratory’s work violated numerous rules and proper procedure, rendering its results meaningless and inaccurate.

“We are optimistic that CAS will agree, and stop the miscarriage of justice that resulted from the earlier arbitration proceeding.”

The 31-year-old Landis was stripped of his Tour de France title and given a two-year racing ban following the arbitration panel’s 2-1 ruling on September 20.

The laboratory’s results received the backing of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which had challenged Landis at his California arbitration hearing earlier this year.

Landis tested positive for elevated testosterone to epitestosterone ratios after his victory on stage 17 of last year’s Tour. Testosterone can speed up recovery after exercise and improves stamina and strength.

ASTOUNDING COMEBACK

He tested positive after an astounding comeback in the final mountain stage which came a day after a poor performance had all but knocked him out of contention.

In a 90-page brief sent to the CAS on Tuesday, Landis’s legal team said the American rider “fully supports” the efforts by professional cycling to combat doping.

“However, to wrongly strip a champion of his victory due to a flawed test result is much worse than to have an athlete cheat his way to victory,” his lawyers added.

“To ensure a fair process and to protect against the travesty of wrongfully convicting a person for an act he or she did not commit, the anti-doping system must strike an adequate balance between the need for accuracy and reliability of laboratory test results and fairness in sport.”

Although the CAS has frequently upheld the principle of “strict liability” as championed by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, Landis will draw some hope from Spanish cyclist Inigo Landaluce.

The CAS cleared Landaluce of doping charges in December 2006 after finding that the lab technician who conduced the rider’s ‘B’ sample had also been involved in analyzing the ‘A’ sample.

Landis’s lawyers are arguing that the same French laboratory made serious errors in the handling of the American’s samples.

Landis is the first rider in the Tour’s history to be stripped of the title for a doping offence.

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