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Crime The Courts

Tour de France Champion Accused of Hacking 259

ub3r n3u7r4l1st writes "A French judge has issued a national arrest warrant for US cyclist Floyd Landis in connection with a case of data hacking at a doping laboratory, a prosecutor's office said. French judge Thomas Cassuto is seeking to question Landis about computer hacking dating back to September 2006 at the Chatenay-Malabry lab, said Astrid Granoux, spokeswoman for Nanterre's prosecutor's office. The laboratory near Paris had uncovered abnormally elevated testosterone levels in Landis' samples collected in the run-up to his 2006 Tour de France victory, leading to the eventual loss of his medal."
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Tour de France Champion Accused of Hacking

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  • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:23AM (#31154334)
    Landis grew up a Mennonite, sometimes refered to German Baptists, often mistaken as Amish. I'm not saying it's impossible for him to have learned the skills to do something like this, but I'm sure he has almost no access to a computer while growing up and his riding training probably kept him from honing his skills online.
  • by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:24AM (#31154342)

    The warrant only applies to France. They are not seeking extradition. I do not know if Landis was actually guilty or not, but given the suspicious behavior of the lab and the French authorities during the initial doping case, it sounds to me like they simply want to prevent him from cycling in France ever again.

    If the way he was riding last year in any indication, he would not be a contender for even a stage win in the TdF, but there is concern that he could take 20th overall, knocking the highest placing Frenchman to 21st.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:36AM (#31154414)
    I work with a Mennonite who drives a hybrid car, manages our 1500 node network, and has every latest gadget that can be purchased online. Go figure.
  • Smokescreen (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:40AM (#31154448)

    The quality of the lab's work is in question, as well as the chain of evidence and the behavior of the testing and adjudication process. This is an effort to draw the light away from the French bungling of matter. I doubt Landis himself did anything but that doesn't mean somebody didn't do something on his behalf and without his knowledge. Perhaps he did know, in which case he needs to study the Presidency of Ronald Reagan as regards "plausible deniability." President Reagan wrote the book on that.

  • Re:Hacking cyclists? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:44AM (#31154472)

    Everyone knows professional cyclists are even dumber than professional soccer players

    Do you have statistics on that?

    Also, is hacking such a mystical activity for you that you want it to remain magically hard and uncomprehensable for yourself, that the tought of a cyclist (which you've stereotyped for yourself in some way) would rob you off all selfpriding and selfattributed intelligence if he would be able to pull something off you cannot, in your self constructed world where hackers are evil geniusses? (that reminds of those "hacking"-courses where these dull network admins are taught to nmap and with a broad smile proclaim they "wont use their hacking skills for evil" and are "now certified".)

    I work with software day to day, but I'm not a "hacker", even thoughwhen I was a teen I used to "hack" stuff if I thought the payoff was great enough. Only it wasn't "hacking" to me, but achieving a goal; like circumventing security in place to go online, ISP blockages to fileshare, get porn, cracking registrations on software or just access data that seemed interesting enough for me to try to think a way to get it. While at the same time I was searching for the "mythical hacking", and never have found it. It just pays the bills now that I was looking deep enough to try to understand systems in the process and now work in that.

    Simulary, I believe anyone thinking the payoff would be great enough (staying in running where you've trained very hard for) that's motivation right there to get online, google a bit and in the most easy case get a scriptkiddie to do it for you.

    "hacking" isn't hard if you have a goal and you attribute enough meaning to it.

    So if your "hacking cyclist" falls outof your scifi romantic lone nerd saving the world view, I'm sorry buddy. And no, I'm not a cyclist. I just don't like selfserving generalisations.

  • Re:Champion? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:45AM (#31154476) Homepage Journal

    The official decision was to strip him of his title. I just don't understand why. Perhaps someone can clarify. He had daily tests. One day he is clean. The next day he crashed, had a surge of adrenaline and made up tons of ground after the crash. His testosterone was exceptionally high the day of the crash. It was normal again the next day. No drugs were found in his system.

    So his crime was having exceptionally high testosterone for one day after a natural massive adrenaline surge.

    I admit I'm biased in not trusting Tour de France officials after they repeatedly let in tons of known cheaters who have failed all kinds of doping tests (so long as they are European) and then go on crusades to try and discredit Lance Armstrong. So when they went after Floyd Landis with what appears to be very little proof, I tend to assume this is part of their crusade.

  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:52AM (#31154516)

    Landis grew up with traditional Mennonites. His parents had to go to someone else's house to see his performance in the Tour de France because they don't even own a TV.

    I get your point. I went to college in Harrisonburg, VA, deep in Mennonite territory. Many stores had hitching posts for the horse and buggies Mennonites drove, but on the other hand the lead engineer at the only non-PBS station there was a friend of mine and a Mennonite and knew electronics better than I ever will, but Landis was raised in a traditional family. One problem he had when he was younger and wanted to ride was having to always wear sweat pants when training due to their issues about modesty.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:07AM (#31154652) Homepage
    I know, it's totally bogus how those underhand Frenchies must have infiltrated the United States Anti-Doping Agency which found synthetic testosterone in 4 out of 7 of Landis' B samples []. Will they stop at nothing to sully the names of honourable American athletes?
  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:09AM (#31154674) Homepage Journal

    Come on, noone is suggesting he did it himself

    And I believe the actual point Landis is making is that he felt the drug testing companies were somehow in error, somehow-or--other hacked into their network, and unearthed evidence that supports his claim.

    It's not surprising that a drug company would go on the offensive to try to cover up their mistakes. That's the entire point Landis is trying to make here. It doesn't look like he's necessarily even denying the doping charges. He's questioning the evidence gathering and handling process that led to the accusation.

    Unfortunately, breaking a different law when attempting to gather counter-evidence usually gets your counter-evidence thrown out in court. BUT, sometimes when it's a "court of the public" and a PR issue, it can prove useful. And I believe that's where he's going with this.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdot ... minus physicist> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:35AM (#31154898)

    A ex-coworker of mine was in the second french cycling league.
    He was very close to getting into the first league. So he informed himself. And the rules are:
    1. Learn how to touch the wheel of the one in front of you in a way that makes him fall down, or at least slower.
    2. Use doping. Period. Or else you won’t get in the first league.

    There is a system against doping. This is how it is supposed to work:
    Doctors from the competing teams do the doping tests on you. Because they have the greatest interest in fucking up your team.

    This is how it actually works:
    The doctors are the one administering the doping. And everyone does it. So if anyone would tell the truth, his own team would be dead in the blink of an eye. Which means nobody really tests anything. It’s the concept of mutually assured destruction.

    Now you may realize, that every “doping scandal” only was someone falling from grace. (Which can end in a large flame-war, like when pretty much every team suddenly gets “caught”.)

  • by Infiniti2000 ( 1720222 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:41AM (#31154960)

    I guess I'm a little confused about the French laws and I'm hoping someone can help. They issued an arrest warrant because "Judge Thomas Cassuto ... is seeking to question Landis...." In the U.S. you don't issue an arrest warrant simply to question someone, do you? Maybe I'm just a little confused about the legal terminology, but I doubt I'm the only one. Some searches didn't really prove fruitful (they actually seem to support my view regarding the U.S.).

    So, do the French actually file charges against Landis as part of the warrant or does it simply mean they plan to detain him for questioning and then let him go?

  • by nicolas.kassis ( 875270 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:45AM (#31154994)
    Yeah well considering how well Pereiro has been doing since that year, Pereiro and the rest might have been a pure joke allowing Landis to win and appear like a superman. Had Lance run that year, he might have looked like superman x10. Same for the other years until 09. The best talent is really young right now, no one is calling Schleck(s) or Wiggins dopers yet they embarrassed the previous years champions since Lance (or Landis considering he wasn't there but my bets are that he would have been no where near top 6).
  • by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @11:45AM (#31155648) Homepage

    Most of the banned cold medicines don't contain steroids or performance enhancers. When your body metabolizes them, though, the resulting chemicals are the same as the metabolites of banned substances. Or sometimes they're just chemically similar enough to trigger the same tests as the metabolites of banned substances. A lot of the banned substances are not banned because they contain performance-enhancing substances, but because banning them is believed to reduce the rate of type I and type II errors.

    Also, many of these tests do not have binary results. There's a continuum in blood concentrations for the substances being tested, and sometimes the test results are based on ratios between two chemicals. The tests are also not perfectly precise; they have measurement error. This all means that the line between positive and negative is somewhat arbitrarily drawn along a probability distribution, which is one reason they keep multiple samples.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:40PM (#31156242)

    I second that. Claiming French applies double standard to cyclist in Tour de France is just preposterous. The Tour de France is an extremely popular sporting event and part of French history. and obviously want to protect it.
    As correctly noted, many french cyclist were convicted of taking doping substances. The Festina case was actually the starter in the great fall of this sport in french's mind, as it shed some light on the overwhelming use of substances in professional cyclism.
    The double standard you claim probably exist, but certainly not in the direction staff, like what happened in USA in athletics, with people who knowingly protected for such a long time athletes like Marion Jones.

  • Re:Champion? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:44PM (#31156264)

    ive listened to the french information about tihs repeatedly and it all sound like it's bogus, cheap tries to incriminate Landis.

    - they are unable to explain what has been "hacked" (its obvious that every of the guys interviewed have absolutely no idea what hacking is, let alone use a computer properly..)
    - they tell they are not at liberty to divulgate more info about it, but went to medias to pressure him
    - one dude said he has shown documents in court, that were proving the labs results were WRONG about him, but that getting those documents could be done only via hacking, so that it must be him and that is why there is a warrant for him. this dude been silenced since, because it implies they WERE ACTUALLY WRONG AND HE DID NOT CHEAT

    the most likely explanation, is that Landis got the documents from a friendly source inside the lab, did not disclose the source, and got framed into fake hacking accusations.
    I have worked with the french govt enough to know this kind of shit happens often behind the curtains. Strangely, I left France.

    So.. yes, it sounds terribly bogus to me. What a world we're living in...

  • by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:51PM (#31156360) Journal

    But what if, and this is a long shot, he's not just full of it? Sometimes people deny guilt because they're stupid, but every now and then people do it because they're actually innocent.

    I can't help but feel like after this long, no sane person would still be proclaiming innocence if it wasn't true at all.

  • by Buelldozer ( 713671 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @01:57PM (#31157542)

    So they found something in 4 of 7 B samples. They found NOTHING in 7 of 7 A samples.

    Sounds like the test is bullshit. Results appear non-repeatable with identical samples.

    That's not Science, it's a witch hunt.

  • by curunir ( 98273 ) * on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @03:44PM (#31159156) Homepage Journal

    For what it's worth, Landis' failed doping test is, at least a little, controversial. The lab that analyzed it was the same one that dug up a B sample of Lance Armstrong that was over a decade old and claimed it tested positive. The ensuing investigation concluded that the lab's practices were woefully inadequate and recommended that they not be used again.

    That they were used to test A samples from such a high-profile event is disgraceful. That they test the B samples as well when the A samples are positive is borderline criminal. Given the prevalence of doping in the sport, labs results are assumed by everyone to be correct, even when there are good reasons to question them. Because of that, the tour and other sports-testing programs owe it to the athletes to get the science part right. They need to hold labs to account and, when labs are found to have been sloppy, discontinue using those labs. And they need to send the A and B samples to different labs so that they can be tested independently. And they need to ensure that the results are not made public until both A and B samples have tested positive.

    I'm not naive enough to think that Landis didn't do it. Just based on that performance at the time, I thought there was something fishy going on since he basically collapsed the day before and less than 24 hours later he was beating everyone by 15 minutes. But I have zero confidence in the labs results and even less confidence in this hacking charge. The fact that this lab is still used is indicative of an agenda on the part of the event to target certain riders. Both parties have an incentive to lie and are almost completely untrustworthy.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll