CHATENAY-MALABRY, France – Testing began Thursday on Tour de France winner Floyd Landis' backup doping sample, while his lawyer reiterated he expects the result to confirm the original positive finding for elevated testosterone levels.
However, Landis is "certain" he hasn't ingested banned substances and is "pretty sure" he can prove his innocence, lawyer Jose Maria Buxeda said outside the French laboratory.
The result of the "B" sample test will not be available before Saturday, Buxeda said.
However, the entire process of determining whether the American cyclist is guilty of doping or whether his body naturally produced the higher than normal testosterone levels — as he contends — could take six months to a year, the Spanish attorney said.
Buxeda and another lawyer, Luis Sanz, were present for the start of the testing. Landis was at his California home.
"The reason why Mr. Sanz and myself said that probably the result is going to be the same is because statistically the results of the `B' sample usually — not always — but usually confirm the results of the `A' sample," Buxeda said.
Michael Henson, a spokesman for the cyclist, confirmed Tuesday that a urine test on Landis after the tour's 17th stage turned up an 11:1 ratio — far above the 4:1 limit allowed. A 1:1 ratio is average.
Landis made a stunning comeback in the 17th stage after falling way behind a day earlier.
Landis is "certain he hasn't ingested any prohibited substance and ... he knows there is a natural explanation to the [initial] finding," Buxeda said.
"He's pretty sure we will be able to prove, if this result is confirmed, that it is due to natural causes, to a natural reaction of his body, either [normally] or in the circumstances he was in that particular stage."
Buxeda suggested that dehydration was one potential explanation.
"For instance, in cases of dehydration, maximum effort, etc., sometimes the body does not behave as it usually does and that could maybe explain abnormal results, as it could be if the result is confirmed in our case," he said.
Landis has said he would undergo further tests to prove that his body's natural metabolism — not doping — caused the elevated result.
Landis showed a testosterone imbalance in an initial urine sample taken during the Tour de France. Both "A" and "B" samples were provided July 20 after he sped his way back into contention by winning a tough Alpine leg of the multistage race.
If the tests confirm the "A" sample results, Landis could become the first winner of cycling's premiere race to lose the yellow jersey in a doping case. Should that occur, Tour runner-up Oscar Pereiro of Spain would be declared the winner.
Landis has already been suspended by his Phonak racing team pending the final results, and could be fired. He could also face a two-year ban from racing.
"The process could be six, eight months, until one year," Buxeda said because the rider has a right to defend himself. "Of course, if it doesn't confirm the "A" sample, the case is closed."
Under UCI rules, a negative "B" sample is accepted as the definitive response and the positive "A" sample is ignored.