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Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Cycling | Landis attempts to block out pain

After two trying months marked by doping allegations, an assault on his reputation and his father-in-law's suicide, Floyd Landis doesn't wish for a stirring comeback so much as the simpler things in life.

At this point, he will settle for a good night's sleep, free of pain.

To help reach that goal, Landis had hip-replacement surgery last week. With his rehab under way, the 30-year-old American who won this year's Tour de France won't rule out a return to competitive cycling.

"Things have been up and down for me," Landis said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'll be happy when it's a little more simple. I'll get through it, though."

Landis had endured three earlier operations on the right hip, injured in a 2003 training crash, to keep him competing over the years, including this summer's winning ride through France — a victory derided by Tour officials after a positive doping test.

"We're moving forward with the idea that he will be back and be competitive," said Landis' personal physician, Brent Kay.

Landis looks at the bigger picture.

"A year from now, I see myself as the same human being I am now," he said. "I care about other people. I love my family. I'd like to race my bicycle again.

"I know how I did it," Landis said of his Tour win. "I did it clean. The accusations against me are unfounded. I hope the world gets to see that. But I'm going to remain myself no matter what, and that's the most important thing."

During this forced sabbatical, Landis spends a good deal of time working on his defense for his doping case. His legal team is expected to argue the tests that found elevated levels of testosterone are faulty.

Landis' attorney, Howard Jacobs, wants the arbitration hearing to be made public, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will prosecute the case, has said it will agree.

Landis said he thinks a public hearing will be his best chance to have his side heard. He said officials at the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency have prosecuted his case in the press.

"I'm not hopeful this sport can be fixed as long as UCI is running it," Landis said. "That's all I can say."

Landis did not lump USADA with those he believes have tarnished his reputation and that of his sport.

"Apart from my side, USADA has been the one group that has followed the rules, done everything properly," he said.

It gives Landis hope he will get a fair hearing in front of an arbitration panel. His reputation, to say nothing of his Tour de France title, hangs in the balance.

"Hopefully, my career will go on, and I'm going to do my best to get there [to France for the Tour]," Landis said. "But obviously, there are more important things."


• At least one-third of the 58 cyclists implicated in a doping scandal should be banned, said Pat McQuaid, president of the sport's ruling body.

The cyclists are under investigation after a police raid on a Madrid, Spain, apartment in May that uncovered about 200 bags of athletes' blood and reams of notes about taking drugs.

"Cycling has suffered financially," the 57-year-old McQuaid said. "We've lost one or two sponsors, but the credibility of the sport has suffered the most. Supporters feel let down."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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