American cyclist Floyd Landis, whose victory in the 2006 Tour de France has been invalidated by tour officials in the wake of a positive testosterone test, has called in a big wheel attorney.


Landis has retained Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP partner Maurice Suh, a former deputy mayor under Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, for his appeal.


It's an atypical case for Suh, who normally focuses on complex business litigation and worked in Homeland Security and Public Safety for Mayor Villaraigosa.


But Suh said he was moved by Landis' admittedly uphill battle and the widespread misconception that the biker has been stripped of the Tour de France victory. In fact, Landis remains the official victor, pending his appeal in a series of hearings before the United States Anti-Doping Agency. International cycling disputes are always decided by the cyclist's home country.


"The evidence is going to show that Floyd Landis did not take exogenous testosterone and the lab results will be proven wrong," said Suh, who joins Connecticut lawyer Howard Jacobs in Landis' defense.


"We don't try cases in the media," said Travis Tygart, general counsel with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, "and that's for the good of the athletes." He added that athletes are innocent until proven guilty and that anyone accused of wrongdoing in international competition has the opportunity to present their defense to a panel of arbitrators.


Although Landis tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the Tour de France, and his back-up test was also positive, additionally revealing the presence of synthetic testosterone, Suh stressed that Landis has never tested positive in any other test during his career.


As a result of the tests performed by the Chatenay-Malabry lab, Landis was, of course, fired by his cycling team, Phonak Hearing Systems, and lost other endorsements.


"In many ways, the system is set up completely against the athlete," Suh said. "Once the lab comes to a conclusion, an athlete faces a huge uphill battle to prove their innocence."


Suh said Landis' tests two days before and after the disputed test were both clear.


This is not the first time the French lab's results have been questioned. Spanish cyclist Inigio Landaluce was acquitted of doping charges by his home country last month. The Spanish Court of Arbitration for Sport found procedural flaws in his lab testing and declared the test to be invalid. He was accused of doping in the 2005 Dauphine-Libere.


In November, computers at the Chatenay-Malabry lab were hacked. The breach was explained as the result of the lab's heavy workload. Landis' hearing will happen sometime in the next six months, although no dates have been set. He will certainly miss the 2007 Tour de France.


"That's one of the sad things that's happened here," Suh said. "He has already lost sponsorships and good piece of his career."


Landis won the tour in the closest three-way finish in the race's history. If Landis is ultimately disqualified, second-place finisher Oscar Pereiro of Spain will be declared the official winner.


Movin' on Up


Michelle Cooke has joined Steptoe & Johnson LLP from Greenburg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP. Another Greenberg attorney, entertainment specialist E. Barry Haldeman, has joined Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP. Jeffer also snagged Manali V. Dighe, a biotech lawyer from Gates & Cooper LLP. Brian Hoffstadt and Brian Hershman, former Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office, joined Jones Day LLP. Boutique entertainment firm Raskin Peter Rubin & Simon LLP hired Tracy R. Roman, formerly counsel at Bingham McCutchen LLP. He replaces Joseph M. Gabriel, who left for the general counsel slot at Digital Domain Inc. DLA Piper US LLP hired Karol K. Denniston from Paul Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, to head the firm's West Coast restructuring practice. J.D. Harriman also joined DLA Piper, as an intellectual property partner, from Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP. Buchalter Nemer PC has three new attorneys, Joshua Mogin from Dechert LLP, Karen Stevenson from Hennigan Bennett & Dorman LLP, and Daniel Wheeler. Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Inc hired IP associate Natasha Shabani from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Petillon & Hiraide has two new partners, David H. Katz, former director of market regulation at the NASD, and Roger D. Loomis, Jr., who was previously an Of Counsel. The new firm was christened Petillon, Hiraide, Loomis & Katz LLP. Nixon Peabody LLP hired Daniel Offner and David Anderson as partners in its venture capital, emerging growth and technology practice from Offner & Anderson PC. JAMS is jumping with new mediators. Kenneth C. Gibbs joined from Gibbs, Giden, Locher, & Turner LLP, John J. "Jack" Quinn, formerly a partner with Arnold & Porter LLP and retired San Diego Superior Court Judge William J. Howatt, Jr.


Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at eyork@labusinessjournal.com .

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