June 30, 2008 / 5:15 PM / 11 years ago

USADA head urges Landis to tell truth about doping

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart urged cyclist Floyd Landis on Monday to tell the truth about his doping now that he has exhausted his appeals over a failed drugs test during the 2006 Tour de France.

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the 32-year-old American’s two-year doping ban on Monday.

“The decision sends a strong message that all of the misinformation, essentially the frontal assault that he (Landis) did on the anti-doping establishment, was really without any basis or merit,” Tygart told Reuters.

“There was no evidence of any fraud or forgery or cover-up — anything he alleged in the media.

“While it’s pretty easy to make a sound bite, it’s a whole different challenge to present evidence of it. We knew there was never any evidence of misconduct.”

USADA banned Landis after he tested positive for synthetic testosterone on the 17th and penultimate stage of the 2006 Tour.

Landis has consistently denied wrongdoing and blamed procedural mistakes by the French laboratory for his positive test.

“Maybe with finally being held accountable...he might finally realize that the best thing for him to do is acknowledge his mistake to dope and try to come clean,” Tygart said

“But that’s a decision he will have to decide.”

The CAS announcement followed a five-day hearing in New York in March. Its decision to uphold the sanction means Spaniard Oscar Pereiro will retain the title handed to him after Landis’s positive test.

“It’s a powerful example that no athlete is above the rules regardless of who you are,” Tygart said.

“Regardless of how much money you have the anti-doping authorities are going to hold you accountable if you violated those rules.”

Landis hinted he was not giving up the fight.

“I am saddened by today’s decision,” he said in a statement. “I am looking into my legal options and deciding on the best way to proceed.”

Cycling is one of several sports which has been rocked by doping scandals in recent years but Tygart said the “culture has dramatically shifted back to where it should be, which is for clean athletes.”

“If you want sport to be played by the rules and fair and pure, while it’s sometimes necessary to expose the dark side of that and what athletes might choose to do, at the end of the day it’s all for upholding the ideals of sport, which we all hopefully still maintain and hold on to.”

Editing by John Mehaffey

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