UCI insists RFEC must make Contador judgement itself, will provide scientific opinion only
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Monday, January 10, 2011

UCI insists RFEC must make Contador judgement itself, will provide scientific opinion only

by Shane Stokes at 10:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
RFEC must wait until January 24th to receive requested information requested in December

Alberto ContadorFollowing reports in yesterday’s El Pais that the Spanish cycling federation RFEC had officially requested the UCI and WADA to tell it if it should sanction Alberto Contador or not, cycling’s world governing body has insisted that the Spanish federation will make the decision itself.

News yesterday of the RFEC request had been interpreted by some as an effort to put the onus of the decision on others. This reading of the situation seemed to be backed up by a quote from an un-named source at the Federation. “After studying the documents submitted by Contador's defence," he stated, “if the UCI and the WADA decide there must be a sanction then we will issue one. If they decide otherwise, we will follow suit.”

Public opinion is strongly in support of Contador in Spain, and the RFEC president said in November that he personally hoped the rider was cleared.

However this notion of asking others to make the decision is, according to the UCI, not accurate. It has issued a statement in order to ‘avoid any misunderstanding of the respective roles of the parties involved.’

The UCI states that on December 10th, the RFEC sent documentation to it in order to request an opinion from the UCI Anti-Doping Commission regarding the scientific content of this dossier.

“This is completely standard practice, and the UCI welcomed the RFEC's request,” stated the governing body. “The UCI responded by letter on 20 December 2010 – the date of receipt of the dossier – to set a provisional deadline for response of 24 January 2011, subject to a possible extension relating to the translation of the appended documents from Spanish as well as a comprehensive examination of these by the UCI Anti-Doping and Legal departments.

“The UCI thus confirms that all the scientific information of the case is currently being studied by the above-mentioned departments and that the RFEC will receive the requested opinion as soon as possible.”

While the RFEC has been criticised for the delays in announcing a decision, it appears that part of the reason for the wait is because the UCI expects its own response to take a further two weeks from today, arriving on the aforementioned date of January 24th.

Article 280 to be waived?


Under Article 280 of the UCI’s anti-doping regulations, a timeframe is laid out for the decision to be reached. “The proceedings before the hearing panel of the License-Holder’s National Federation must be completed within 1 (one) month from the time limit set for the dispatch of the summons,” it states.

After this point, penalties usually start to apply after this period. “The National Federation shall be penalized by the disciplinary commission, incurring a fine of CHF 5000 for each week’s delay without prejudice to the obligation to complete proceedings as fast as possible.”

The rules further state that if no decision is reached within three months, that the UCI can go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which will appoint a single arbitrator to force the RFEC to act. In that case, the Spanish federation would bear costs for all parties.

However a UCI official recently suggested to VeloNation that these constraints might not apply due to the complexities of the case.

Contador tested positive on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France, with samples provided then later showing traces of Clenbuterol. The substance is banned under the WADA code and punishable by a lengthy ban. Contador insists upon his innocence and says that the substance got into his system when he ate contaminated meat.

In today’s statement, the UCI makes clear that the RFEC will be the body which must decide what sanction applies to Contador.

“The UCI…reiterates that the RFEC's action is purely consultative as the responsibility for the decision at this stage of a disciplinary procedure lies solely with the rider's National Federation.

“If necessary, the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency have the option to appeal the RFEC’s decision.”

Spanish media reports recently stated that that decision is not now expected before February. Previous cases involving Clenbuterol saw suspensions of between one and two years being applied.

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