Disgraced former Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis should be given an 18-month suspended prison sentence for his part in an alleged plot to hack the French national anti-doping laboratory (LNDD) using Trojans, a prosecutor has said.
The planting of computer Trojans for the purposes of data theft is usually seen as the work of criminals and perhaps government espionage agencies, but the Landis case has underlined that even private individuals can be accused of using the technology for ill purposes.
The accusation by French prosecutors is that Landis and his coach Arnie Baker hired a computer expert, Alain Quiros of private investigation company Kargus Consultants, to hack into the anti-doping agency in order to retrieve sensitive documents connected to the body’s case against him after he was caught doping in 2006.
The lab concerned, Châtenay-Malabry, reported that it had been hacked a few months after Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, a victory he was then stripped of in embarrassing circumstances after the positive dope test. Documents stolen were later allegedly used by Landis’s coach in his drawn-out appeals against the doping charge.
The Trojan attack was traced by investigators to an email sent by Baker, and beyond that to Kargus Consultants, a company coincidentally accused of hacking several other organisations including Greenpeace on behalf of French energy giant EDF.
In January 2010, an arrest warrant was issued by the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Nanterre for Landis and Baker should they visit France, which is now backed up by the prosecutor’s view on their alleged guilt.
Landis and Baker have denied any involvement in the hacking of the anti-doping agency and were not represented during the prosecutor’s deliberations.
The Landis ‘victory’ in the 2006 Tour de France is now seen as the low point for a sport that had by the early years of the 21st century become synonymous with organised doping. It has since cleaned up its act significantly but the bad atmosphere from the period still haunts the sport.
Landis, who initially and strenuously denied having taken a banned substance before admitting guilt, was also a teammate of seven times winner Lance Armstrong, a man he has since accused of conspiring to encourage drug taking on the US Postal team. These claims are still being looked at by US investigators.