French judge adamant Landis will stand trial, sources say
International arrest warrant still outstanding on rider and manager
The French judicial system is attempting to progress a stalled prosecution against Floyd Landis and his manager Arnie Baker, for alleged complicity in computer hacking and the receipt of fraudulently obtained documentation which could see the pair stand trial in a French court room.
The case relates to Landis’ failed attempts to prove his innocence of doping offences in the 2006 Tour de France using documents which French prosecutors maintain could only have been obtained by illegally hacking into the computer system of the French anti-doping laboratory.
Sources with knowledge of the case have said that judge Thomas Cassuto, who presides over a court in Nanterre, west of Paris, last month made the decision that the case should go to trial but, that he has yet to set a trial date.
That information raises the question of whether Landis and Baker may be tried in absentia, especially in view of the fact that while international arrest warrants for the pair have been outstanding for over a year, they have yet to be served by any of the law enforcement agencies in the countries they have visited during that time.
Currently in New Zealand where he is competing in the Tour of Southland, there would appear to be very little prospect that authorities in that country would serve a French arrest warrant on Landis for an alleged hacking offence. New Zealand and France famously fell out over the Rainbow Warrior affair and notably over the French judicial system’s lenient treatment of the country’s agents on their return to France after convictions in New Zealand.
A New Zealand Police spokesman told the country’s Herald newspaper that Interpol has not received any notification about an arrest warrant for Landis.
Landis’ current team manager, Wayne Hudson, has poured cold water on the suggestion that there is a realistic chance the rider will stand trial in France.
"If nothing was done, (the warrant) would have lapsed. The question was whether the warrant should stay open or not," Hudson told AP.
"But the warrant was never served on Floyd. So the suggestion he will stand trial in France is a ridiculous statement because they still have to serve him."
"It's about his having somehow received some information that may have been obtained illegally from a computer in a laboratory in France and there's been no substance to it," Hudson said. "The prosecutor doesn't want to push it but the judge disagreed. By making the decision the judge is keeping the case alive.
"He [Landis] is annoyed that it has escalated unnecessarily when there's no substance to it. But he's not losing any sleep over it and is focused on the race."
Nevertheless, it’s safe to assume that France and its overseas territories will not be featuring in Landis or Baker’s holiday plans for the foreseeable future. Landis may also be hoping that if his flight home is over the Pacific, the plane doesn’t make an unscheduled stop in French Polynesia.