Floyd Landis’ former coach Arnie Baker rejects French hacking ruling
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Floyd Landis’ former coach Arnie Baker rejects French hacking ruling

by Shane Stokes at 1:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Claims trial was biased and designed to cover up lab’s failings

Floyd LandisFloyd Landis’ former coach Arnie Baker has categorically denied being involved in the hacking of the French national anti-doping laboratory and also of knowingly receiving stolen material from that lab’s computers, saying that he was judged unfairly in absentia, and questioning the proceedings. Baker and Landis were both deemed guilty of some involvement in the hacking case today, although the judge concluded that there was no evidence that either were directly involved. He ruled that they had however benefited from what had taken place.

Baker claims that the French prosecution got things wrong, and said that the trial itself was not fair.

“I appreciate that a French court has exonerated me, found me not guilty, of hacking of the French National Anti-Doping Laboratory that tested Floyd Landis in the 2006 Tour de France. The court has convicted me of having knowingly received hacked documents revealing testing irregularities from the French National Anti-Doping Laboratory that tested Floyd Landis in the 2006 Tour de France,” wrote Baker in the statement.

“All of my sentence has been immediately suspended—it is without effect. Perhaps this reflects the weakness of their opinion on even this lesser charge.”

“The charges were not true—I had nothing to do with any hacking and as far as I knew, the lab documents I received while serving as an expert consultant to the legal team for Floyd Landis were obtained legally. The case was initiated by the lab, which complained that I had published secret documents that reflected poorly on its work.”

Neither Baker nor Landis were present during the trial. While the US Constitution and the laws of many other countries forbid the prosecution of individuals in absentia, the practise is allowed under French law. Baker alleges that there were unfair elements in place from the start of the process, and suggests that there was never a chance for his name to be cleared.

“Rather than interview me locally, following established protocols between the U.S. and France, investigators short-circuited the rules,” he said. “They summoned me to appear in France, at my own expense, and then threatened my arrest if I set foot there.

“The French court used legal theories contrary to principles of U.S. justice and law. They tried me in absentia in an inquisitorial system where there is a presumption of guilt, rather than of innocence. No evidence of wrongdoing was presented; they relied on false assumptions, including my absence from the court.

“This case against me appears to be a deeply flawed process from start to finish, designed to protect a national French institution and cover up its apparent sloppy work and incompetence.”

During Landis’ trial it emerged that the same lab technician tested the A and B samples, which normally is a breach of regulations. Other claimed shortcomings of the lab were also highlighted.

At the time he denied using the banned hormone, but analyses of several of the rider’s B samples from the Tour showed evidence of synthetic testosterone use, suggesting that the origin was deliberate.

The rider dramatically lost time while wearing the yellow jersey in the 2006 Tour, but bounced back the following day during stage 17 when he attacked early on, steadily gained time on the peloton and reached the line in Morzine five minutes 42 seconds ahead of the second-placed rider, Carlos Sastre.

The-then Phonak rider gained seven minutes and eight seconds over Pereiro, moving close enough to be able to recapture the jersey in the final time trial.

He was confirmed as testing positive four days after winning the Tour in Paris. That set off a lengthy fight to try to clear his name, with Landis and Baker using documents with surprising insight into the inner workings of the LNDD.

These documents were at the centre of the rider’s fundraising initiatives and his appeal but, as Baker’s statement today claims, he continues to reject knowingly receiving illegally-obtained information.

He concluded his release today by calling for better standards in anti-doping. “Now that this saga is over, it is important to reflect that the sport of cycling needs reliable, competent, transparent, and high-quality testing,” he said.

Landis denied drug use but then last year accepted that he had used banned substances for much of his career. Statements by him are currently part of an investigation into the US Postal Service team.

Both he and Baker were today handed suspended one year sentences.

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