WADA and ASO respond to Contador's hearing delay before CAS
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Friday, May 27, 2011

WADA and ASO respond to Contador's hearing delay before CAS

by Shane Stokes at 2:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Postponement of appeal is blow to Tour de France

WADAThe World Anti Doping Agency has commented on the decision to delay Alberto Contador’s hearing in front of CAS, saying that it would have preferred the original June 6 – 8 hearing date, but that it had accepted a later hearing would be more fair.

“WADA acknowledged a decision from CAS to postpone the hearing following a request made by Alberto Contador,” a WADA spokesman told VeloNation.

“Ideally, WADA would have liked a decision ahead of the 2011 Tour de France, but accept that other considerations have prevailed to ensure even greater fairness to Mr. Contador.”

The situation is a surprising one, given that CAS, WADA, the UCI and Tour de France organisers ASO all said that they wanted the situation clarified prior to the start of this year’s Tour de France. Should he ultimately be sanctioned for his Clenbuterol positive, Contador would become only the second Tour de France winner in history to be disqualified for doping.

He’ll line out on July 2nd with that sword of Damocles hanging over him, causing considerable uncertainty for the sport.

Tour de France organiser Christian Prudhomme is clearly unhappy with the situation. “We want to believe that a decision will be made before the start,” he told AFP. “We are surprised because the CAS had repeatedly announced that the decision would be made before the start. The schedule was set with a hearing scheduled between 6 and 8 June We can only repeat what we said since last autumn: hopefully there will be an answer before the Tour.”

In truth, the likelihood of that is practically zero; even with the June 6-8 hearing, time was tight to have a final decision in time.

According to information received from CAS earlier this year, an extension of time is by no means a given in a case like this.

“Extensions of time are granted as long as they are reasonable. Any abuse of the rules will not be allowed by the CAS,” its Secretary General Matthias Reeb told VeloNation in mid February. “Requests for extension of time, if longer than 5 days, must be either approved by the other parties or granted by the CAS Panel.”

Contador’s legal team has already compiled exhaustive documentation to advance its claims that his positive test was due to food contamination. One possible reason why WADA would permit an extension would be if new elements are being introduced to the case.

Unlike the UCI, which has said it is dealing with the Clenbuterol issue only, there have been some indications that WADA may be considering a stronger charge than contamination.

Firstly, it has chosen not to combine its appeal with that of the UCI, but rather to keep it separate. That suggests a different approach to the case.

Secondly, there have been repeated suggestions that plasticizer levels may form part of its appeal; if this is true, it would indicate that WADA is looking into pursuing a blood doping charge against the rider.

In this circumstance, Contador and his legal team would need to prepare documentation to defend against that, particularly as it has not been part of the charges against him thus far. It remains to be seen if this is the case, but that scenario would explain why an extension was given.

Does ASO have blocking rights?

Whatever the reason, ASO is still left in a position where the Tour de France could be compromised. Alberto Contador might be ultimately cleared yet, at best, the 2011 edition of the race will still be run under considerable uncertainty.

The Tour de France organisers may in theory look to block the Spaniard from starting. As referenced earlier today by the blogger Inrng, UCI rule 2.2.010 gives provision for race organisers to do this in certain cases.

“The organiser may refuse permission to participate in – or exclude from – an event, a team or one of its members whose presence might be prejudicial to the image or reputation of the organiser or of the event,” states that rule. “If the UCI and/or the team and/or one of its members does not agree with the decision taken in this way by the organizer, the dispute shall be placed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport which must hand down a ruling within an appropriate period. However, in the case of the Tour de France, the dispute shall be placed before the Chambre Arbitrale du Sport.”

If ASO does indeed decide to head down this route, it will also weigh up the potential for the negative headlines which would be generated if the world’s biggest cycling event seeks to block the world’s biggest rider.

Contador continues to insist upon his innocence but, whether or not that is true, the Tour de France has been put in a difficult position indeed. The fact that it might take a year or more to reach a conclusion is a blow for the sport.


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