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Landis to sit out this year's Tour

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PARIS, France -- Tour de France winner Floyd Landis will not take part in this year's race in order to concentrate on fighting doping charges on one front rather than two.

The American was facing disciplinary hearings in France and the U.S. after testing positive for the banned male sex hormone testosterone during the 2006 Tour.

On Thursday, however, the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) agreed to postpone its investigation, due to be held that day, in exchange for a pledge by the Californian not to race in the country in 2007.

"Simultaneous proceedings in the U.S. and France risk the possibility of an inconsistent application of rules, contradictory judgements, and come at a great cost -- both personal and financial -- to Floyd," said Landis' representative Michael Henson.

In a letter read by his lawyer to the AFLD hearing, Landis asked for the chance to first defend himself in front of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

"He says in this very letter that he promises not to take part in any race in France until the end of 2007, in particular in the 2007 Tour," the AFLD said in a statement.

"The AFLD subsequently decided to postpone the examination of his case to a date that will be set according to the course of the procedure before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency," added the statement.

In the letter, Landis wrote: "Let me assure you that I fully share the goal of preventing illegal doping."

He added, though, that two disciplinary hearings dealing with the same facts could lead to confusion and asked for the a postponement of the French one.

"In this case, and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, I agree voluntarily not to participate in any professional or amateur cycling event in France until December 31, 2007, and in particular the Tour de France 2007," the letter read.

Landis, 31, is due to have a separate USADA hearing on May 14.

Speaking about the AFLD's postponement of their inquiry, said World Anti-Doping Agency vice-president Jean-Francois Lamour. "It is a common sense decision, which allows USADA to prepare their hearing in a proper manner.

"AFLD has the obligation to respect the WADA code and in delaying the decision they do so," he added.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) said they did not have any specific comment to make on the AFLD's decision because they only take into account the U.S. federation's actions, which will be based on the USADA recommendations.

If found guilty of doping, Landis, who denies any wrongdoing, faces a two-year suspension from the sport and the possibility of becoming the first Tour winner to be stripped of his title. However, the American could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

His lawyers say the samples were mislabelled by the French laboratory which conducted the tests, the testing process was unreliable and the rider never in fact tested positive.

Testosterone can speed up recovery after exercise and generally improves stamina and strength.


Landis tested positive after his remarkable victory on the 17th stage of last year's Tour.

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