11/10/2011 08:18 EST | Updated 01/10/2012 05:12 EST

French court convicts American cyclist Floyd Landis over hacking into doping lab

NANTERRE, France - Disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis was convicted by a French court Thursday for his role in hacking into the computers of the anti-doping lab that caught him cheating at the 2006 Tour de France.

The court in Nanterre, west of Paris, handed Landis and former coach Arnie Baker 12-month suspended sentences for benefiting from information culled from computers at the Chatenay-Malabry lab.

State prosecutors had sought an 18-month suspended sentence against both men, who were tried in absentia.

Landis was stripped of the 2006 Tour title after the WADA-accredited lab south of Paris found unusually high testosterone levels in his samples.

The case centred on alleged use of a Trojan horse spy program in late 2006 to poke into the lab's computers to extract information about Landis' file — months after he tested positive — to use in his defence.

After years of denials, Landis admitted last year to doping during his career.

Investigators of the case against Landis, Baker and three other defendants said their probe was unable to turn up who ordered the hacking, and blamed in part a lack of co-operation from U.S. authorities.

In its ruling, the court said Landis' role "was limited to the knowledge that he had about the fraudulent origin" of the lab information that he and his defence team used in their unsuccessful appeal to sports authorities — an attempt to show he was clean and that the lab work was faulty.

"The defendant knew very well that these (lab) results were accurate, because he would admit four years later that he had been involved in doping since 2002," the court verdict said.

Emmanuel Daoud, a lawyer for Landis, said he would advise the rider to appeal.

"If he doesn't appeal, it amounts to an admission that he lied about his knowledge of the fraudulent origin of these documents that he used for his defence," the lawyer said.

Landis did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment. Baker, in a statement emailed to the AP, lashed out at the French trial and insisted "the charges were not true."

"I had nothing to do with any hacking and as far as I knew, the lab documents I received while serving as an expert consultant to the legal team for Floyd Landis were obtained legally," Baker wrote.

"This case against me appears to be a deeply flawed process from start to finish, designed to protect a national French institution and cover up its apparent sloppy work and incompetence," he added, referring to the lab.

Baker said "I appreciate" that the court found him not guilty of any hacking, but acknowledged: "The court has convicted me of having knowingly received hacked documents..."

He didn't indicate whether he planned to appeal but said "this saga is over" now.


Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.