Pellizotti biological passport decision expected Tuesday
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pellizotti biological passport decision expected Tuesday

by Samuel Morrison at 5:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
'I would like to race Tirreno'

Italian cyclist Franco Pellizotti may race the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race starting Wednesday if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules in his favour. It is expected to rule on his biological passport anti-doping case by Tuesday.

"We are reaching the end of the story," Pellizotti told La Gazzetta dello Sport when he left a 10-hour CAS hearing yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland. "I would like to race Tirreno. In the last few weeks, I've always trained as if already tomorrow, I will be on the start line of a race."

Nearly a year has passed since Pellizotti last raced, on May 1 at the GP Larciano. Shortly after, the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced that its biological passport system was used to reveal Pellizotti had suspicious blood and urine values. On May 3, the UCI asked the Italian authorities to open a doping investigation. The findings put Pellizotti's 2009 results in doubt – second overall at the Giro d'Italia and winner of the mountains competition at the Tour de France.

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) investigated the UCI's findings and recommended a two-year suspension. However, the Italian anti-doping tribunal (TNA) disagreed, ruling on October 21 that there was not sufficient evidence to prove doping. On January 12, the UCI appealed the TNA's decision to the CAS to protect its biological passport.

Pellizotti hopes for a favourable decision. If so, he may race the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, running March 9 to 15, with Spanish team Movistar.

"We clarified our position well," added Pellizotti's lawyer, Rocco Taminelli. "We also asked for confirmation of the decision from CAS, as well as expenses. The UCI had initially requested four-year suspension, now in its appeal it's asking for at least two."

Taminelli said in January that Pellizotti will sue the UCI for €200,000 in legal costs and psychological damage resulting from the trial. In addition, he plans to ask for compensation of lost earnings, bringing the total up to €800,000, if the CAS confirms the TNA's acquittal ruling.

This is the first biological passport CAS will rule on and will likely set precedence for future cases. Slovenian cyclist Tadej Valjavec will be watching closely. He is waiting for his court date with the CAS, the UCI already appealed his federation's acquittal decision.

The UCI's biological passport is able to signal doping without a traditional positive test. Experts plot blood and urine readings over time to be able to recognise irregularities. It was introduced at the start of the 2008 season.


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