UCI’s Contador appeal to CAS could roll on past Tour de France start
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

UCI’s Contador appeal to CAS could roll on past Tour de France start

by Shane Stokes at 7:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Implications of appeal and possible sanction

Alberto ContadorFollowing the news that the UCI has decided to appeal Alberto Contador’s clearing on doping charges by his national federation, the rider, his legal advisers and his Saxo Bank SunGard team will be weighing up their options in the hours and days ahead.

Contador is able to continue competing for now, and is currently leading the Volta a Catalunya after winning yesterday’s Queen stage in Andorra. He is building up for his second participation in the Giro d’Italia and the time normally taken to reach a decision means that he should be able to complete the race before any CAS appeal is concluded.

The Tour de France is an uncertain matter, though. The UCI and the Tour de France organisers ASO have said that they would hope a final decision is reached prior to the start of this year’s race. Neither want a question mark over last year’s edition, and equally they won’t want a rider who could be suspended to start the 2011 edition.

The complication is the length of time it would take for such an appeal to be completed. “The possibility to have a final CAS award before the end of June exists,” CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb indicated to VeloNation last month. “But it will depend on many parameters and, more generally, on the parties' agreement to proceed in a speedy manner, if any.”

He said that there was a chance that the decision could come at a later point, potentially enabling Contador to start the Tour.

Reeb laid out the timescale for a standard CAS appeals procedure. Taking a theoretical date of March 24th as the date of filing the statement of appeal – a prediction that has turned out to be precisely correct - and thus beginning the process, he said that the subsequent timing is as follows:

The appeal brief (=main written submission of the Appellant) should be filed on 4 April 2011.
The written answer should be filed on 26 April 2011 approx. (depending on when the appeal brief is received by the Respondent).
A hearing would take place 4-5 weeks after the filing of the answer, say on 30-31 May 2011.
Finally, the deliberations + notification of the final decision would be completed in June 2011.

However Reeb pointed out that factors could delay the final outcome further than this, thus potentially taking any decision past the start date of the Tour de France on July 2nd.

“This calendar could work only if the parties 1) do not request any extensions of time for the filing of their submissions, 2) do not request additional evidentiary measures (i.e. expert's opinion, etc...), 3) do not request a second exchange of written submissions and 4) are available for a hearing on the day(s) proposed by the CAS,” he indicated.

“Unless there is any abuse of the rules, the CAS generally grants the above-mentioned extra time or extra measures in compliance with the parties' due process rights.

In theory this could mean that Contador’s legal team could seek to delay the process, although CAS would move to block this if it became apparent that they were stalling for time.

If he is found guilty and given even a minimal sanction, he would lose his Tour title. Depending on the length of any ban handed down – which could be retroactively applied to the date he last raced – he could also be disqualified from any races he has done in the meantime. That would mean that his win in the Vuelta a Murcia would be at risk, plus potential wins in the Volta a Catalunya and, if successful there, in the Giro d’Italia.

The Spaniard and his legal team must now decide what they wish to do. He may continue racing, or alternatively he may decide to concentrate fully on his defence and on fighting what is certain to be a very tough battle. The road ahead will be mountains, whether or not he rides the Giro.


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