MALIBU, California (Reuters) - Triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond rocked the doping hearing into current champion Floyd Landis on Thursday when he revealed he had been sexually abused as a child and that the Landis camp had used that information to try and prevent him testifying.
LeMond told the panel he had received an anonymous menacing phone call the night before he was due to testify and that he later traced the number to Landis’s business manager Will Geoghegan.
“I’m going to be there tomorrow,” LeMond told the hearing the caller had said. “I’m going to be there and we can talk about how we used to hide your weenie (slang for penis).”
“It was a real threat and freaky,” LeMond told reporters. “I don’t think he (Geoghegan) wanted me to come today. I was shaking and shocked.”
Shortly before LeMond left the court room, Geoghegan apologized for making the call, the former cycling champion said.
While LeMond was speaking, Landis’s attorney Maurice Suh told the three-man arbitration panel that Geoghegan had been fired by 2006 Tour de France winner Landis “as of this moment”.
Earlier on the fourth day of the hearing at Pepperdine University, LeMond said he had shared a private story with Landis in a phone conversation last August.
“I told him I was sexually abused before I got into cycling and that it nearly destroyed me by keeping it secret,” the American said.
“I shared this with him with the idea of him seeing what keeping a secret would do.”
LeMond said he had urged Landis to “come clean” and that if he had taken testosterone it would come back to haunt him, but Landis replied that doing so “would destroy a lot of friends and hurt a lot of people”.
Landis, who has consistently denied using performance enhancing drugs, faces a two-year suspension if he is found guilty of doping and the possibility of becoming the first Tour winner to be stripped of his title.
At the 10-day hearing, three arbitration experts will determine whether the 31-year-old American injected himself with the male hormone testosterone.
Earlier on Thursday, the French laboratory that analyzed Landis’s urine samples came under increased attack over its operational procedures.
Claire Frelat, an analytical chemist at Chatenay-Malabry laboratory (LNDD) outside Paris, admitted some errors were made in re-testing Landis’s back-up ‘B’ samples last month.
Frelat, whose native French was translated by an interpreter, also said she knew the ‘B’ sample from stage 17 on the 2006 Tour belonged to Landis when she analyzed it last August.