Former US cycling star Floyd Landis has been handed a suspended 12-month prison sentence by a French court for his part in an alleged plot to steal documents from the country’s national anti-doping laboratory (LNDD) using Trojan malware.
The fact that the sentence has been suspended is actually good news for a man whose career turned into one of the most troubled in recent cycling history after he tested positive for testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France.
The suspended sentence means that a French arrest warrant, issued for the cyclist in January 2010, will probably now be dropped.
Alleged co-conspirator, Landis’s former coach Arnie Baker, was also given a 12-month suspended sentence although the man accused of carrying out the Trojan attack on their behalf, computer consultant Alain Quiros, was sentenced to six months in prison with a 4,000 euro fine.
Just to add an extra twist, the company Quiros worked for, Kargus Consultants, has separately been accused of creating malware to hack a variety of organisations in France, including environmental campaigners Greenpeace on behalf of energy company EDF.
Landis’s attempts to clear his name appear to be at the centre of allegations regarding the spying, with the cyclist using allegedly stolen documents to help mount a defence against the doping charges in the years after 2006.
After years protesting innocence, in 2010 the rider admitted he had taken banned substances and went on to allege that other riders did the same while he rode for the legendary US Postal cycling team built around Lance Armstrong.
Cyclists testing positive for doping has become almost routine in recent years but Landis was always an unusual case, having become the first rider in history to be stripped of a Tour de France winner's title for such an offence.
Both Landis and Baker have continued to deny the Trojan accusations.