Aug. 7, 2006 — -- In the wake of a second test confirming that his blood contained higher levels of testosterone than permitted, Tour de France champion Floyd Landis has changed his defense strategy to say he cannot explain the test results.
"That is where I got into trouble from the beginning," he told "Good Morning America." "All these reasons that have come up, we need to forget about that and let the experts figure it out.
"I was forced into that situation because of leaks and announcements by the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] themselves, against their own rules, by the way," he said."
Tour de France officials said they no longer consider Landis their champion -- and Landis' team has dropped him -- after a second test on his second urine sample Saturday showed elevated levels of testosterone.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme told The Associated Press that runner-up Oscar Pereiro would likely be declared the new winner. The UCI, the sports governing body, will ultimately decide whether to strip Landis, who officially remains the 2006 Tour de France champion
Landis has repeatedly denied doping. In a statement after the second test results, he said he would fight to clear his name. He told "Good Morning America" that he never used any performance-enhancing drugs during his career.
"I have never taken any banned substance, including testosterone," Landis said in a previous 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."
The UCI said it would ask USA Cycling to open disciplinary proceedings against Landis.
Documentation from test results will be forwarded to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will then turn it over to a review panel. The USADA will ultimately decide if a two-year ban or another punishment is appropriate for Landis. He can accept the decision or begin an appeals process that can take up to six months and involve the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Both of Landis' "A" and "B" samples turned up a testosterone/epitestosterone ratio of 11:1 -- far exceeding the 4:1 limit. Testosterone, a male sex hormone, helps build muscle and improve stamina. The urine tests on Landis were conducted July 20 after his Stage 17 victory during a grueling Alpine leg, when he regained nearly eight minutes against then-leader Pereiro and went on to win the Tour. The samples also contained synthetic testosterone, which indicates that it came from an outside source.
Landis and his defense team have offered various explanations for the high testosterone tests, such as cortisone shots taken for pain in his degenerating hip, drinking beer and whiskey the night before the tests, thyroid medication, and his natural metabolism.
"Number one, the whiskey idea was not mine from the beginning," he said. "And the dehydration was a theory from the lawyers, which I must say I hired in Spain to represent me at the opening of the sample but were not authorized by me to say something like that, and I'm disappointed with that and something has to be done with that."
Yet questions continue to surround the test results. Landis was tested a total of eight times, and all the tests produced negative results. Moreover, experts said a synthetic testosterone needs to be taken over time, and a single dose would not really help him.
"The second test has been misrepresented in the press, mostly by people who don't understand how this works," Landis said. "I happen to be one of those people because I learned about this exactly the same time the press did."
No matter what happens, Landis' wife, Amber, said she believed and supported her husband, whom she called a good, hardworking man who put winning the Tour de France above everything else in life.
"It has been such a roller coaster," she said. "During the tour the last week, he had his bad day. We thought that was a low point. Then he won and you couldn't get any higher than that. Then this came, and I don't think you can get any lower than this. It's very difficult."
Landis, who was raised a Mennonite in Pennsylvania, said he also leans on his mother for support.
"She's the one that no matter what happens, to me or to anyone else in life, she will remain unchanged," he said. "When she spoke to me, she said, 'Look, tell me the truth, doesn't matter to me what it is, I'll see you the same regardless.' And I think if you saw any of her interviews on television she believes."
Landis said that he will not stop fighting to clear his name and hopes that his fans and fans of cycling will continue to watch the sport.
"I hope they'll keep watching, because the race isn't over yet," he said. "I had a bad day before and I kept fighting."