THIS year’s Tour de France has kept its biggest shock to after it has finished with the news that winner Floyd Landis has failed a drugs test.
After claiming victory on Sunday by less than a minute the American has tested positive for the male sex hormone testosterone.
The International Cycling Union (ICU) announced that a rider, who they did not name, had failed a test after stage 17, the day that Landis had turned around a ten-minute deficit to sit just over a minute behind the yellow jersey in third place.
But the ICU told Landis and his team Phonak personally, who have said that they are surprised by the result and would await tests on the second sample.
This news comes after the start of the race was rocked by the withdrawal of two of the favourites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, whose names had come up in an anti-doping investigation in Spain – Ullrich was sacked by his team T-Mobile a few days later.
It appeared le Tour had shook off these problems to stage one of the most competitive and exciting races in living memory, with more people wearing the yellow jersey during the three weeks than ever before.
The highlight of the competition was the sight of Floyd Landis struggling up the last few kilometres of stage 16 in the Alps, tumbling down the overall classification to lie ten minutes behind the leaders.
But next day in one of the most exciting and thrilling stages ever seen Landis set off on his own from the foot of the first climb to overtake a breakaway group and disappear off in the distance to win the 200km stage from the front – turning his massive deficit on the leaders to a 90 sec gap that he soon turned around in a time trial to finish the Tour in Paris as winner.
And it is this 17th stage that appears to have been his downfall, although one question that must be asked is why he would artificially enhance his performance knowing full well he had to win the stage and so face a test?
It won’t be long before the results of the second test are made public, but one must wonder whether this is one failed test too far and if le Tour can ever be seen as a ‘clean’ competition.
Landis set to lose Tour title