The Work

June 30, 2008 3:08 PM

Court of Arbitration for Sport Denies Cyclist Floyd Landis's Appeal

Posted by Zach Lowe

It has been a rough month for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Maurice Suh, who counts as clients two of the most famous U.S. athletes accused of doping.

This morning the Court of Arbitration for Sport denied Floyd Landis's bid to reclaim his revoked 2006 Tour de France title. Landis was stripped of the prize after testing positive for synthetic testosterone levels in the pivotal seventeenth stage of the race, when Landis surged up the French Alps and gained nearly eight minutes on his opponents.

Last month, the same court denied sprinter Justin Gatlin the opportunity to defend his Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter race, upholding the athlete's four-year ban for steroid use.

Landis's appeal was heard in March by a three-lawyer CAS panel comprised of Freshfields partner and international arbitration head Jan Paulsson, David Williams of Auckland's Bankside Chambers, and Debevoise & Plimpton's David Rivkin.

In a prior hearing before the American Arbitration Association, Suh and his partner, Howard Jacobs, tried to cast doubt on the work of the French lab that performed two separate tests on Landis's samples. That panel ruled there were problems with the first test but not with the backup that ultimately damned Landis.

The positive test destroyed Landis's reputation; he had been considered a gritty hero for overcoming a debilitating hip problem to win the grueling race. He spent approximately $2 million on his first appeal.

Landis will be suspended for two years retroactive to 2007. The court ordered him to pay $100,000 to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to cover some of the agency's legal fees in this matter.

In a statement released today, Suh said he was "very disappointed" in the ruling, and that the evidence "supports Floyd's innocence." Landis said he was "saddened by today's decision."

The 2008 Tour de France begins July 7. Last year's champion, Alberto Contador, is banned from this year's competition over evidence of doping that surfaced shortly after the 2007 event.

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Slump? Has Suh ever won a case for an athletes? Suh billed Landis 5 times more than any athlete has ever been billed for a drug testing case, Landis says he may have to declare bankruptcy, and Landis was ordered to pay $100,000 to USADA because of Suh's conduct in the hearing. With Landis and Gatlin, Suh's tactics appear to have been to advance Suh's name with NO benefit to his clients.

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