Ex-Tour champ hopes Landis will be cleared | india | Hindustan Times
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Ex-Tour champ hopes Landis will be cleared

Even if his backup "B" sample comes back negative - the results are expected on Saturday - Landis will be tainted by unfounded claims that he cheated.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2006 17:14 IST

The way three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond sees it, 2006 champion Floyd Landis is already a victim.

Even if his backup "B" sample comes back negative - the results are expected on Saturday - Landis will be tainted by unfounded claims that he cheated.

"If it does come back positive, that's even more tragic to me," LeMond said, because the pressure to compete against those who are cheating "takes good people and forces them to make tragic decisions."

Landis showed elevated testosterone levels in an initial sample taken during the Tour de France. Both "A" and "B" samples were provided on July 20 after he sped his way back into contention after winning the tough Stage 17 of the three-week Tour.

In the Boston area to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge this weekend, LeMond said on Thursday he was saddened by the drumbeat of doping allegations in cycling but hopeful the publicity will help clean up the sport.

"I'm tired of it, myself," he said during a break in signing autographs for charity. "But I think you have to take a long-term view. It's like saying baseball's no good anymore because of Barry Bonds. It's still a good sport, but it does hurt people's perceptions of it."

While stressing he still hopes Landis will be cleared, LeMond said the 2006 Tour winner's shifting explanations for elevated testosterone levels are not encouraging.

If Landis is found guilty of doping and his Tour victory stripped away, LeMond would like to see him help officials track down those supplying the performance-enhancing drugs.

"We had another American test positive, and he's still in denial," LeMond said of Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton, who's serving a two-year suspension for blood doping. "To admit that you did cheat takes some real courage."

LeMond, the first American to win the Tour, has quarreled with seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, but he said Armstrong should not be lumped in with those who have been caught cheating.

"I'm not making any judgment on Lance. He hasn't been found positive," LeMond said. "I don't get along with him just because I don't get along with him."