Lab technician acknowledges mechanical mistakes

MALIBU, Calif. -- A French lab technician testified Thursday that she knew she was working on Floyd Landis' positive doping test, breaching confidentiality essential to the testing process.

Claire Frelat, an analytical chemist who worked on the Tour de France champion's positive backup "B" sample last August, said she knew it was Landis' urine because of media reports she had read of his positive "A" sample test.

That's a big point for the Landis camp, which has repeatedly questioned the integrity of the Chatenay-Malabry lab outside Paris.

During the 2006 Tour, Landis, who's accused of using synthetic testosterone in his Tour victory, was tested eight times. Of those, one, after Stage 17, tested positive.

Frelat also testified she only had been working on carbon-isotope ratio tests for six months when she was given Landis' sample to test for synthetic testosterone.

With Greg LeMond scheduled to take the witness stand later in the day, Landis' attorneys used Thursday morning's testimony to portray Frelat as inexperienced, forgetful and incompetent.

Landis attorneys also asked her about the testing of Landis' seven negative backup "B" samples. At the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's request, those tests were subjected to carbon-isotope ratio testing last month. Four of the seven returned "abnormal
testosterone profiles," and the Landis camp is trying to prove that's a result of mishandled tests.

Frelat acknowledged making some mechanical mistakes that accounted for time gaps and overwritten test results in the computer logs, specifically April 21.

"I remember that morning because there was lots of wasted time," Frelat told attorney Maurice Suh under cross-examination.

Suh asked several questions about her recollection of events from last month and asked if it was true that Frelat's memory was the only way to account for some of the missing and overwritten data in the computer logs.

"Yes," Frelat said.

Frelat also testified that she manually analyzed data, getting different readings for results that had already been automatically analyzed by the machine. Landis wants to use that, combined with the time gaps and overwritten results, to prove the results of the tests are unreliable.

The cross-examination was in line with the questions asked Wednesday of Frelat's workmate, Cynthia Mongongu, who tested Landis' positive "A" sample from Stage 17, as well as some of the negative backup "B" samples.

USADA is expected to bring LeMond, a three-time Tour winner, to the stand later in the day. USADA's witness list says LeMond "will testify regarding conversations he had with Respondent and related events."

A three-man arbitration panel hearing nine days of testimony will decide whether to uphold Landis' positive doping test after Stage 17 of last year's Tour. If it does, Landis could face a two-year ban from cycling and become the first person in the 104-year history of the Tour to have his title stripped for a doping offense.