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Cyclist Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France. Urine tests later revealed that he was using performance-enhancing drugs, and he was banned from the sport for two years.
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According to the cyclist, he had used a variety of drugs to boost his performance, including testosterone, human growth hormone and erythropoietin (EPO), which increases the body's red blood cell count. He also admitted to conducting frequent blood transfusions, among other tactics, during his career.
Despite clearing his conscience in 2010, Landis's troubles were far from over. Not long after admitting his guilt in taking banned substances, he incurred a fresh round of litigation, this time for defrauding his fans: In fighting his drug charges, beginning in 2007, Landis had reportedly spent more than $2 million—most of which was raised through his "Fairness Fund," an effort aimed at defending Landis against the charges. Supporters who donated a minimum of $75 through the fund were reportedly offered thank-you notes signed by Landis; those who donated a minimum of $2,000 reportedly received signed yellow jerseys. Landis received fraud charges for deceiving hundreds of fans into contributing to the fund, which was based on the belief of his innocence.
On August 24, 2012, reaching an agreement with the U.S. attorney's office, Landis publicly agreed to repay nearly $500,000 of his "Fairness Fund" profits to donors. The agreement relies on that restitution amount as well as a three-year payback deadline, which, if not met, would likely lead to a wire fraud charge for Landis, and could ultimately mean a $250,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to 20 years for the former cyclist, if convicted.
According to an ABC News article, after making the deal with federal prosecutors, the 36-year-old Landis apologized to his supporters in a statement to reporters: "I can never undo what happened," he said. "I can never undo having lied to people but if, in some small way, making restitution helps them to forgive me, then that's a small step in the right direction."
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For some athletes, the risk of losing—or even being less than the best—is worse than the many consequences of doping in professional sports, and for decades, performance-enhancing drug controversies have made headlines around the world. Other athletes have garnered media attention, criminal charges and sporting suspensions for their recreational drug use. Biography.com examines some of the world's greatest athletes to ever fall from fame, whose names have been tarnished by drugs scandals, including Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Marion Jones, Andre Agassi, Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong.
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