Landis: Don't Judge Me

Floyd Landis, speaking at a news conference in Madrid, Spain, July 28, 2006.
Floyd Landis said he has naturally high testosterone levels, and will undergo tests to prove he is not guilty of doping at the Tour de France.

"We will explain to the world why this is not a doping case but a natural occurrence," Landis said Thursday in his first public appearance since a positive doping test cast doubt on one of the most stirring Tour de France comeback wins in history.

Landis said his positive test results had nothing to do with doping, and that the high level of testosterone in his blood was the result of his natural metabolism.

"I would like to make absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process," Landis said. "I ask not to be judged by anyone, much less sentenced by anyone."

The American cyclist chastised the media for confusing the public by implying that he was accused of doping, and he defended himself as an honest competitor who had devoted his life to the sport of cycling.

"I declare convincingly and categorically that my winning the Tour de France has been exclusively due to many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling," he said. "I was the strongest guy. I deserved to win, and I'm proud of it."

It was Landis's first public appearance since testing positive for high testosterone following the Tour's 17th stage last week. That was the stage in which he made a charge that ultimately led to his comeback victory in cycling's signature event.

Landis and the rest of the cycling world must await a second test that will either confirm the results of the first one, or clear his name. The rider said he hoped that would be concluded as soon as possible.

Landis said he was shocked when told of the initial positive result. He said he had been tested six other times during the tour, and many other times during the year.

The Phonak team suspended Landis, pending results of the backup "B" sample of his drug test. If Landis is found guilty, he could be stripped of the Tour title and fired from the team.

Meanwhile, the head of cycling's world governing body pledged Friday to wage "a crusade against doping."

Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union, cautioned that, while Landis' first urine sample was positive, "we have to wait for the B sample before we can start the sanctioning process."

McQuaid said he was disgusted with the way drugs accusations overshadowed this year's Tour, and promised within the next few weeks he would unveil "a crusade against doping" to ensure this didn't happen again.

"There's no doubt, I'm very angered by this," McQuaid said of the Landis news. "I'm also very angered by the events that came out in Spain before the Tour de France," he said, referring to the suspension on the eve of the Tour of nine riders, including two favorites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso.

"The cycling world cannot accept, it's completely impossible, to have a small circle of guys who are willing to risk anything in this way."

Landis had an exemption from the Tour to take cortisone shots for pain in his hip, which will require surgery for a degenerative condition, and was taking an oral medication for hyperthyroidism. He and his doctor were consulting with experts to see if those drugs might have thrown off his testosterone levels.

Landis said he wouldn't be surprised if people were skeptical of him and the sport of cycling, but he pleaded for time to clear his name.

"Unfortunately, I don't think it's ever going to go away no matter what happens next," Landis said. "It appears as though this is a bigger story than winning the Tour, so that's going to be hard to go away."

Landis also denied cheating in a story posted on Sports Illustrated's Web site Thursday.

"No, c'mon man," he said when asked if he used some kind of testosterone patch to gain an advantage.

He added that he "can't be hopeful" that a second test will exonerate him. "I'm a realist," he said.

Steve Madden, Editor In Chief of "Bicycling" magazine, told CBS News' The Early Show that according to UCI protocols, drug test is not positive unless both the 'A' and the 'B' samples test positive.

"Right now there's only been an 'A' sample, and because that news was leaked, there's been a rush to judgment saying he's a doper. That's not strictly speaking true," Madden said.