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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Owner set to disband Landis' team
Floyd Landis rides behind his Phonak team during the 2006 Tour de France
Landis (rear) is set to be stripped of his Tour de France title
Tour de France winner Floyd Landis' former Phonak team is to be disbanded in the wake of his positive drugs test for unusual levels of testosterone.

Team owner Andy Rihs has been unable to find another sponsor after Phonak said they would withdraw from the sport.

The team will be wound up at the end of the season.

"As a passionate cyclist, I am bitterly disappointed that the sport of cycling apparently has become a synonym for doping," Rihs told the team's website.

"I truly regret this development and it has brought me to the decision of disbanding the team."

Landis was sacked by the Swiss-based Phonak team after analysis of the American's B sample confirmed excessive levels of testosterone in relation to epitestosterone.

We looked for solutions, talked day and night

Phonak team owner Andy Rihs

The 30-year-old, who has denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs and is planning an appeal, could now be stripped of his Tour de France title and also faces a two-year ban.

And Rihs added that the Landis affair was the main reason behind the decision to break up the team.

"I am deeply disappointed because what Floyd did was what led to this decision," he added. "On the other hand you know the guys and I would never say this is a bad person because he played bad.

"I regret what he has done for him, too. But for us, it's a tragedy that we had to stop the team now."

Phonak was to be replaced as the team's title sponsor in 2007 by iShares, a subsidiary of Barclays Bank, but Rihs said the deal had been called off.

Rihs also stated that uncertainty surrounding the renewal of Phonak's ProTour licence for next season left him with few options other than to disband the outfit.

Phonak team owner Andy Rihs announces his decision to disband the team
Rihs says he worked hard to try and find a new sponsor

"Three weeks ago, we were the winners of the Tour de France, we were overjoyed, the sponsors were queuing up to join us, and then suddenly this blow," he said.

"We looked for solutions, talked day and night and now I've made my decision, I'm pulling out."

The team will now try and find places at other teams for their riders and staff.

The Landis affair has capped a miserable two years for the Phonak team.

Before this year's Tour de France, Phonak suspended Spain's Jose Enrique Gutierrez and Colombian Santiago Botero amid investigations into alleged doping in Spain.

In 2004, Oscar Camezind was banned for taking the prohibited endurance drug EPO before Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez were both found to have taken illegal blood transfusions.

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