CAS rules that Alexandre Vinokourov does not owe UCI a year’s salary
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CAS rules that Alexandre Vinokourov does not owe UCI a year’s salary

by Ben Atkins at 11:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
“Commitment for a New Cycling” was not legally binding says highest sports court

alexandre vinokourovThe Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has ruled that Alexandre Vinokourov does not owe the International Cycling Union (UCI) a year’s salary, amounting to €1.2 million, dating back to his positive test for blood-doping during the 2007 Tour de France. The UCI tried to recover the money from the Kazakh rider since he signed the “Commitment to New Cycling” document before the race, which pledged that he would forfeit the money if he tested positive.

The document was signed by 620 riders in all in June 2007, and was a prerequisite for anyone who wanted to start that year’s Tour. In it riders pledged not to dope and specifically declared that they were not involved in Operación Puerto. If they went back on these pledges, the document promised, they would accept a two-year ban and, pertinent to the current case, pay the UCI a figure amounting to their 2007 salary; the money was to go towards the fight against doping.

Italian cyclist Christian Moreni, who tested positive for testosterone during that Tour and caused his Cofidis team to withdraw from the race, reportedly paid up without protest; Vinokourov however, refused, prompting the CAS case.

The CAS has ruled that the document was not in fact legally binding, but merely a public relations exercise to restore some credibility to cycling in the wake of the Puerto affair and Floyd Landis’ testing positive after winning the 2006 Tour.

“The Panel concludes that the “Rider’s commitment for a new cycling”… constitutes an action directed to the public, the media, sponsors and the Tour de France organizer in order to regain public credibility and esteem for the sport of cycling, in general, and the Tour de France 2007, in particular,” the CAS verdict reads. “Therefore, according to Article 18 CO, UCI and Mr Vinokourov did not agree on a valid and binding penalty clause under Swiss civil law.

“The Panel comes to the final conclusion that there is no legal basis for UCI to claim the payment of a contribution under the Rider’s commitment,” the verdict continues. “Accordingly, Mr Vinokourov is not obliged to make the payment requested by the UCI.”

The precedent set by this ruling will likely prevent any future claims under the document, and may lead to riders like Moreni attempting to get their money back.

The riders’ declaration in the “Commitment for a New Cycling” read as follows:

“I do solemnly declare, to my team, my colleagues, the UCI, the cycling movement and the public that I am not involved in the Puerto affair nor in any other doping case and that I will not commit any infringement to the UCI anti-doping rules. As proof of my commitment, I accept, if it should happen that I violate the rules and am granted a standard sanction of a two-year suspension or more, in the Puerto affair or in any other anti-doping proceedings, to pay the UCI, in addition to the standard sanctions, an amount equal to my annual salary for 2007 as a contribution to the fight against doping.

At the same time, I declare to the Spanish Law, that my DNA is at its disposal, so that it can be compared with the blood samples seized in the Puerto affair. I appeal to the Spanish Law to organise this test as soon as possible or allow the UCI to organise it.

Finally, I accept the UCI’s wish to make my statement public.”

Read the full Court of Arbitration for Sport decision on the Alexandre Vinokourov case


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