SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Floyd Landis, who lost his 2006 Tour de France title to a doping conviction, admitted today that he defrauded more than 1,700 people who donated money to a fund for his legal defense and agreed to pay more than $478,000 in restitution.
Landis, 36, is obligated to pay back the money over the next three years, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern. “Restitution is an integral part of this agreement,” Halpern told Magistrate Judge Jan Adler. If Landis fails in his restitution obligation, he could face “years” in jail, the prosecutor said.
Landis deferred entering a guilty plea to a charge of wire fraud with the promise that he will pay back his victims. Adler also allowed the defendant to remain free on his own recognizance.
Landis admitted receiving the money in the Floyd Fairness Fund based upon falsely representing to victims that he had not used performance-enhancing drugs during his career as a professional cyclist.
The defendant’s 2006 Tour de France victory was vacated when France’s National Laboratory for Doping Detection found that his urine “A” sample tested positive for testosterone.
Landis denied the drug use, and the International Cycling Union subsequently tested his “B” urine sample. That sample also tested positive for the presence of testosterone not produced naturally from his body.
The final decision as to whether Landis used a PED was turned over to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and Landis was eventually banned from the sport for two years.
According to court records, Landis spent more than $2 million while litigating the propriety of the positive drug test.
The funds were derived from a variety of sources, including the Floyd Fairness Fund, which was established to “support Floyd Landis against unsubstantiated doping allegations.”
The donations — as well as other funds — were raised at town hall- style meetings, via online videos, charity rides and other ways. Landis’ appeal to donors was based, in large part, on his consistent denial of having used PEDs during his career.
In his 2007 book, “Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France,” Landis falsely claimed, “I did not used PEDs in the 2006 Tour de France or any other time in my career,” court records show.
According to prosecutors, Landis repeated the lie in a variety of venues following the 2006 Tour de France and through 2009, including the time he was soliciting money for his legal defense fund.
Charges will be dismissed against Landis in three years if he makes restitution and otherwise lives up to terms of the agreement, prosecutors said.