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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 Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:14AM (#31154288) Homepage

    FINALLY that phrase makes some kind of sense.

    • I never thought I'd live to see the day; but I think we all owe Faux News an apology.

      They warned us about "Hackers on steroids", and we laughed at them...
    • Hackers Suspected of Blood Doping doesn't really have the same ring to it.

  • by bbbaldie ( 935205 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:19AM (#31154320) Homepage
    A hacker that doesn't weigh 250 lbs, doesn't live on Cheetohs, and actually exercises!
    • This has movie potential.
    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      That stereotype is overrated.

      I cycle about 15km a day (5500km a year), which is mostly to and from work, plus going to places at weekends. I weigh ~60kg, which puts me on the lower end of "healthy weight" for my height. One of my IT colleagues rows regularly, another belongs to a football team, another goes to the gym most days. Many others cycle or walk to work. There are only a couple of people I'd consider overweight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by caluml ( 551744 )
        Well, I'm a little tubby (and brown) after a month long holiday in South America, that there's one more to balance your list of thinnies out. :)
      • That stereotype is overrated.

        I cycle about 15km a day (5500km a year), which is mostly to and from work, plus going to places at weekends. I weigh ~60kg, which puts me on the lower end of "healthy weight" for my height. One of my IT colleagues rows regularly, another belongs to a football team, another goes to the gym most days. Many others cycle or walk to work. There are only a couple of people I'd consider overweight.

        ...and how often do they spend a weekend rebuilding their gentoo system to find the most optimum CFLAGS setting?

        • by tibman ( 623933 )

          oh god, talk about reasons to drink. The worst is when you check the console before bed and see it crapped out and died on the 2nd package of 400. rage!

          I'm an idiot and have been attempting to replace puppy on my tablet with Gentoo. Even with distcc (distributed compiling) it is a painfully slow process. But fun :) Xorg and hal aren't getting along and i'm still mostly experienced with xf86 style configs : /

          For the record, i'm only a neckbeard on long weekends and vacation time. 170 lbs at 70" (an imp

    • This is the reason geeks drives girls out of CS.

  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Publikwerks ( 885730 )
        Is he also a world class cyclist?
      • 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 nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:43AM (#31154462)

      The skills needed are to find someone who has the required computer skills and offer them something in exchange for doing a task.

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        I agree, so they either tracked down the real hacker who did this and that person confessed or they think Landis had the skills to do it.
        • Or they have enough evidence to implicate him in being involved according to whatever the French rules are and hence want to arrest him.

          I have no idea where on the scale of "I have a hunch" to "I have absolute proof" the French system draws the line for issuing arrest warrants.

    • by gilly_gize ( 470403 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:51AM (#31154510)

      As someone who grew up in Floyd Landis' hometown...German Mennonites are not really comparable to Amish when it comes to the use of computers and even some of the Amish themselves have fine computer skills (using them at the library, just not at their home). Landis' could very well have had the same level of exposure to a computer as a child as any other American his age.

    • by rve ( 4436 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:58AM (#31154550)

      Come on, noone is suggesting he did it himself. According to the press, he was accused after his lawyer presented documents in his case that he did not obtain through official channels. It seems more likely to me (as a complete outsider) that they bribed someone who had access.

      The usual accusations of anti Americanism are getting very tiresome. Every year, several riders are kicked out of the race and stripped of any stage victories after failing a doping test. Landis failed a doping test. This was just the first time it happened to the #1 after the finish at the champs elysees. Noone gets to appeal this decision in court. Every rider who performs exceptionally has always been suspected or accused of doping in the media, not just Armstrong. It's just that American sports fans aren't interested in cycling, just in Lance Armstrong.

      Previous tour winners Pantani, Ulrich, Riis, Indurain etc were all accused in the media of taking dope - some of them were caught - all the way back to the days of Anquetil who sort of openly used doping before it was banned. I don't remember American 3 time tour winner Greg LeMond being accused of doping, but I'm sure he was.

      The Floyd Landis case is considered particularily insulting, because the winner failing a drug test smeared the reputation of the tour even further. He never apologised and now 2 years later he still hasn't accepted guilt and is still appealing that decision. With his 2 year ban expired, he was planning to compete in this year's race. It looks like some people in France really wish he didn't.

      Now the question whether this treatment professional cyclists get is fair is another matter. The doping tests are a huge invasion of privacy, and upon failing a test the athlete is presumed guilty and expelled immediately, facing long time bans with very little legal recourse. False positives and sabotage cannot be ruled out, and if doping cases were judged in a court of law, few athletes would be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It just doesn't normally get this far. After a failed dope test, they usually go 'Ok, I'm guilty. I'm so sorry, I'll never do it again, I'm totally anti-doping from now on'

      • 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

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mmeister ( 862972 )

          Given the timing of this (4 years later, a few months before the next Tour), it looks like a pre-emptive attack to discredit Landis.

          The Tour officials certainly played fast and loose with their labs and techniques, so it is hard to know who was right. In my eyes, they have little to no credibility.

          Given the enormous consequences of their charges (and the fact that you are assumed guilty and then have to try and prove innocence), I'd like to see more disclosures of the relationship between the Tour and labs

        • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @01:06PM (#31156594)

          I followed it closely at the time, but have forgotten the details by now. I'm sure google would be my friend. However, Landis' main complaint was that the lab results were poorly handled, poorly tracked, and altogether lacking a real chain of ownership to show they were even his samples. Furthermore, IIRC, the surprisingly high results for that day were incompatible with samples taken before and after. The kind of doping they accused him of would have left traces in the blood for some time afterwards, long enough for later tests to have shown something, which they didn't. And the samples they used were the backup samples, because they had lost the primary samples.

          It smelled pretty bad from what I remember. It didn't mean he hadn't done it, but no court would ever have accepted their evidence, and to strip someone of a Tour de France championship because of it was pretty outrageous. IIRC he had also beaten the French favorite and the French have never taken much to foreigners who do that, especially Americans.

          OTOH, I undoubtedly have forgotten a lot of the details, and I just don't care to look them up -- I mainly remember how shoddy their case was, how much it seemed like petty officials running amuck, and especially taking revenge for their gross carelessness and incompetence being shown to the world by some uppity bicycle rider. After all, everyone knows that the true purpose of any bicycle race is the glory of the promoters, not the racers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            It is true that his defense was based upon the lab mishandling the samples, and claiming that there was no proof that the samples that tested positive were his. It is also true that tests before and after the positive test showed nothing. Nothing from before the positive is unlikely, as steroids tend to work based on continuous use, not a single use. Having nothing from samples after seems impossible. Steroids take a while to go out of the system.

            There was no French favorite. The highest finishing Fren

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rve ( 4436 )

            IIRC he had also beaten the French favorite and the French have never taken much to foreigners who do that, especially Americans.

            In that same tour, the French favorite was also beaten by two Spaniards, a German, an Australian and a Russian, a pattern similar to that of the past 25 years or so.

            False positives, laboratory fuckups and actual cheating are all much more likely than a French conspiracy against Landis on the basis of him being an American.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Amazingly, LeMond is the only Tour winner in the last 25+ years not implicated in a doping scandel. I grew up about 30miles east of where Landis did and I'm an avid cyclist. I was very upset when news of his positive test came out, even more upset in the years since due to his continued denials. Sure the lab made some procedural mistakes, but in the end, he had artificial steroids in his system. Had taken the David Millar route: Admin, Aplogize, help reform.. I'd welcome him. Had he gone the Kohl route, adm

        • by rve ( 4436 )

          I'm an avid cyclist too (though not a very good one)

          There's nothing like that feeling of going over 30 mph purely by your own power or scaling that hill 2 minutes faster than last week...

        • by mmeister ( 862972 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:47PM (#31156298)

          Testing was much more lax in LeMond's day, so he could very well have skated by. The fact that he's so quick to join the accusers makes me wonder about his motives. And his claims that some of his best friends told him (and only him) in private that they doped says that either his friends are stupid or maybe he's not being truthful.

          Armstrong sued the Tour for their claims and won. He's probably the most drug tested cyclist on the tour, yet all that comes out of the Tour is innuendo and whispers because there is no evidence of him doping. The officials so desperately want to implicate him but can't, so they throw out whispers instead. Of course, Armstrong is probably the best thing that ever happened to the Tour in the last 25+ years.

          I don't know whether Landis did or didn't dope. I do know the claims made (that he would massively dope on the last stage) is inconsistent with the science involved (of how steroids work) and would make Landis an absolute idiot that it leaves questions. I can say that the evidence I saw from the hearings made me question the entire testing process used. In a normal court, Landis would have been found not guilty just on the labs very questionable procedures. Of course, in the Tour "court", if you're accused of doping, you are assumed guilty and have to then prove your innocence. Even the panel's findings suggested major problems with the testing procedures, but they stayed with the guilty assumption.

          I'm waiting for the Tour to have a transparent process in place for testing so that there is no doubt by the public, but they have done absolutely nothing since then.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JamesP ( 688957 )

        Nothing says 'I'm on steroids' better than testicular cancer...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @11:19AM (#31155356)

        Let me be clear here--I live in Lancaster, PA, near where Landis grew up. I think he's guilty, but it's still up to the French to conclusively show this. They haven't.

        "Landis failed a doping test."

        Landis suppsedly failed doping tests, plural. The initial first two results of which were thrown out due to abnormalities in lab handling.

        What he was finally "convicted" of based on test results, he was never given the data of the test results to even review.

        This is a very confusing case, partly because the details aren't reported clearly, and that there has been many steps and turns in the process. But the French wanted Landis to give up, and he didn't, and they've grown tired of his defense, so they essentially had a closed court conviction, which doesn't sit well with Landis or many onlookers.

        I should also point out, what Landis was taking, while clearly a performance enhancer, was not detected in earlier tests of him during the same TDF. He started taking it DURING the TDF, in which the synthetic testosterone would have no play in his performance (testosterone is more a long term actor and a muscle builder, not short term); that's the other perplexing issue that's been raised but never explained, with most thinking it was maybe a pyschological or dare taking inducing edge, but it still makes little sense to start taking a longer term nont short term performance enhancer mid-race. In turn, some think something was spiked.

        "The usual accusations of anti Americanism are getting very tiresome."

        Why, because you believe the French are doing this fairly or because you're lazy? On ESPN, look at the commentary/conversations about this. You have French and EU fans ragging about how they gave more donations per capita to Haiti, as a measure of them being better than the US, of all things. While you may be tired about the anti-Americanism claims, it is and has been continuing to occur whether you like it or not. Bury your head in the sand if you wish, but to NOT think there is nationalistic focus and intent in this is insane.

        When you have a French newspaper, owns the TDF, pulling old B samples, and testing them, without oversight, then slamming an American winner, without review, most would call that slander. That's what they did to Armstrong. Meanwhile, Bernard Hinault literally states he isn't drinking spring water, he's still celebrated as a national hero, not a cheater. Still. He presents awards at the TDF. Still. For those that don't know, Hinault is a 5 times French TDF winner who openly stated, when asked about steroid use at the TDF, something to the effect "Well, you don't win the Tour drinking spring water." Where's the movement to strip his titles?

        "Pantani, Ulrich, Riis, Indurain"

        I know that Pantani and Ulrich were caught doping after their wins in other races, and they were not stripped of titles since it didn't occur DURING the TDF, yet they only tried that with Armstrong.

        "I don't remember American 3 time tour winner Greg LeMond being accused of doping, but I'm sure he was."

        LeMond had been currently going after Armstrong. The strongest evidence against LeMond was circumstantial and not during any of his TDF years; it was during his couple of comebacks after his hunting accident. He ripped ligaments repeatedly, and the whispers were that sort of damage was due to steroid use he was using to recover.

        "The Floyd Landis case is considered particularily insulting, because the winner failing a drug test smeared the reputation of the tour even further. He never apologised and now 2 years later he still hasn't accepted guilt and is still appealing that decision. With his 2 year ban expired, he was planning to compete in this year's race. It looks like some people in France really wish he didn't."

        "even further"--key words here--the TDF was already smeared with doping scandals, with teams and prior winners conclusively found to be doping.

        Landis wasn't. Partly because he didn't roll over. Which the French found insulting because THEY were being questioned, and they wanted a plea deal or guilt before innocence presumption. They didn't want to be questioned, they wanted to be the law because of their say so. Even the oversight doping boards found their handling wrong, and yet they still persisted and the focus remains largely on Landis, despite French clear wrongdoing.

        And that doesn't speak slightly of anti-Americanism? He failed drug tests which were thrown out. So he ends up getting convicted on data he was never allowed to see or contest. He still serves his ban, and tries to return, and he suddenly gets hit with a 3-4 year charge which they never really looked into prior. That's inventing a charge to spite someone.

        Are you that naive? Every American winner they went after after it became clear Americans were making strong inroads. They went after Armstrong, it blew up in their face. They went after his doctor, and ended up finding more dirt on European riders than American, and they got angrier not at European riders, but American riders. Then an American wins again, and gets hit with this charge that they don't want to release the complete data on, to anyone, to him, the public, no one.

        Again, I believe Landis is likely guilty, but come on.

        • by rve ( 4436 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @11:35AM (#31155546)

          My point is that they've all been suspected or accused of doping, including French cyclists, not just Armstrong and Landis.

          Doping enforcement was a lot more lenient in the 70's and early 80's. Eddie Merckx was actually caught several times, for example, but it didn't hurt his career.

          Today it is unbelievably draconian. Never failing a drug test is not considered proof of innocence in the public eye. The Festina team was banned in 1998 purely based on circumstantial evidence. None of the riders tested positive, despite the irrefutable proof that they had been taking it.

          But you're right that the sort of evidence used to ban riders from cycling usually wouldn't stand up in court if it was handled by the law. Landis isn't the first who persists in not admitting guilt, if you remember Virenque...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GSloop ( 165220 )

        I thought I'd reply to this...

        I'm not sure I'd agree with the "guilt" portion.

        In short, the lab totally screwed up a (comparatively) very simple test that "showed" guilt.

        In the course of the case, it was clear they had totally botched that simple test.

        A much more technically difficult test using mass spectroscopy was a follow-up to the original test. The software on the MS machine was out of date and not certified for use in that configuration etc.

        The prosecution wants us to believe that even though the lab

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by curunir ( 98273 ) *

        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

    • by zx75 ( 304335 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:47AM (#31155008) Homepage

      Please readjust your thinking about Mennonites... you are so very wrong that you almost circle completely back again.

      I will state for a fact that I am Mennonite. I got my first computer when I was 6 (1988) and I am currently employed as a software developer.

      Although the Amish and the Old Order are Mennonites (which are among the few sects that have community restrictions on technology) the reverse is not true. It is equivalent to me saying that you are Christian, sometimes mistaken as Mormon. I'm not saying it's impossible for you to be monagamous, but I'm sure you were raised in a polygamous cult.

      I will further add to my comment in saying that I do know some Old Order and Amish people, and have had a nice long conversation with an Old Order deacon and teacher who explained that it is not technology that they shun, but anything new that may split their community. They take a very long time to evaluate new techology (usually about 300 years or so) but they do use some modern equipment. The Old Order community that I was on used modern combines (computer controlled) in order to quickly and efficiently harvest their fields.

      • Amish also can have special battery operated Computers that let them do excel, word, etc. They also can use battery operated signals, and normally have a generator in the barn. There is also a trend for them to have a phone installed outside the house (in inconvenient distance away) with voice mail for emergencies, and Amish communities are probably the one place in the US that phone booths still make profits.

        The issue isn't electricity, it is having the world outside their community intrude on their liv

      • by stand ( 126023 )
        I also grew up in a Mennonite family and am now a software developer. My father grew up in a much more traditional Mennonite community in Saskatchewan and is very computer savvy. One of the things you have to realize is that a lot of Mennonites are farmers. Farmers are some of the biggest gadgetry geeks there are.
    • by JamesP ( 688957 )

      OTOH Mormons seem to be very tech savvy. Or at least the one I know :)

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The warrant only applies to France. They are not seeking extradition.

      He's a professional bicyclist. Not being able to go to France is basically ruining his career.

      It's like saying you can keep your car but no gas.

      It's like saying you can have your pizza but no crust.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I usually leave the crust when I eat my pizza, you insensitive clod!
      • No, riding slowly is ruining his career.

        If he wins a stage or finishes top 10 in the GC at the Giro, then maybe the ban from France will be hurting his career.

      • by himself ( 66589 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @01:08PM (#31156642)

        >He's a professional bicyclist. Not being able to go to France is basically ruining his career.
        > It's like saying you can keep your car but no gas.
        > It's like saying you can have your pizza but no crust.

              It's like raaaaaaiiiiiiiiiin on your wedding day....

    • and see the fireworks goes off!

      Come on, the German has conquered Paris in ONE week during World War II.

  • No offsite backup? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by niftyguy ( 1745152 )
    Can't imagine how these clowns manage to function when they only keep one copy of all their results.
  • by yourpusher ( 161612 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:28AM (#31154364) Homepage Journal

    actually engaging in it.

  • Doesn't he suffer from Asperger's Syndrome? We need to keep him in the US so he doesn't harm himself if he gets extradited.
  • Title inaccurate (Score:3, Informative)

    by brucmack ( 572780 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:11AM (#31154694)

    The title is inaccurate, as Landis is not a Tour de France champion. What an athlete is stripped of a title, it means you shouldn't be using that title to describe the athlete any more. Logical, no?

  • 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

  • Floyd's got to think twice before visiting France again. Maybe the French would prefer he stay at home this racing season.

"It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God but to create him." -Arthur C. Clarke