'Hacking' arrest warrant issued for rider Landis

A French judge gives the order for allegedly gaining entry into drug laboratory computer after he failed a dope test following the 2006 Tour win

PARIS// A French judge issued a warrant for the arrest of the American cyclist Floyd Landis on Monday for allegedly hacking into an anti-doping laboratory computer. Pierre Bordry, the French anti-doping agency head, said the judge, Thomas Cassuto, believed Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title after he failed a dope test, wanted to prove the laboratory where his samples were tested was wrong.

Landis denied the charges in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times. He also said he had not been contacted about the warrant. "No attempt has been made to formally contact me," Landis was quoted as saying. "It appears to be another case of fabricated evidence by a French lab still upset a United States citizen believed he should have the right to face his accusers and defend himself." Bordry said it was an international warrant but a French court spokeswoman later said the warrant applies only to French territory.

"French judge Cassuto from the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Nanterre informed us that he had issued an international arrest warrant on January 28 against Floyd Landis, who tested positive for banned testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France, after our laboratory computer system was hacked," Bordry said. "He was summoned by the judge, he didn't come so he's now under an international arrest warrant."

However, a Nanterre court official said: "This document is called a simple arrest warrant. It only applies to French territory." The French anti-doping agency launched legal action against unnamed people after they found their laboratory computer system had been hacked in September 2006. Landis, 34, the first rider to be stripped of a Tour victory, has continually denied any wrongdoing but the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected his assertion that his positive test was because of a procedural mistake by the laboratory.

Landis, 34, said last year after his two-year ban ended that he was trying to decide whether to follow fellow-American Lance Armstrong's example and ride again in the Tour de France. "It seems that [Landis] made all he could to enter into our computer system to try to prove the laboratory was wrong," Bordry said. "He showed many documents he got by hacking to numerous sporting instances. "The judge traced a network of hackers back to the ringleader."

* Reuters