Sports court holds open hearing in cyclist’s doping case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The Court of Arbitration for Sport began a public hearing Monday to allow cyclist Andre Cardoso challenge a four-year ban for doping.

Cardoso’s lawyers took the option to request a rare hearing in open court for registered media and observers to attend.

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang was the first party to a CAS case that requested an open-door process since the court modified its rules to allow more scrutiny suggested by a European Court of Human Rights ruling in 2018. Sun’s hearing was held in November and a verdict is expected this month.

Cardoso is appealing against a ban imposed by the International Cycling Union after his positive test for the hormone EPO two weeks before the 2017 Tour de France. The Portuguese racer was due to ride in support of Trek-Segafredo team leader Alberto Contador.

Cardoso was connected to the hearing by a video link.

The case has been complicated by the backup sample provided by Cardoso not matching the original sample that tested positive for the endurance-boosting hormone.

His lawyer, Yasin Patel, argued the burden of proof had shifted unfairly on his client.

“He is effectively having to disprove something that they (the UCI) can’t prove,” Patel told the panel of three judges. “Uncertainty has to benefit the athlete and not the governing body.”

The world cycling body’s lead lawyer, Antonio Rigozzi, argued the initial sample was reliably tested for EPO, and the required “satisfactory explanation” for the difference was likely degradation in the backup sample.

“It is not a matter of fault, it is a reality,” Rigozzi told the panel of arbitrators.

The initial positive test for EPO was “crystal clear,” said an expert witness for the UCI, Guenter Gmeiner, director of the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria.

A verdict is not expected for several weeks.

Davide Rebellin dies after hit by truck while training

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MILAN — Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, one of the sport’s longest-serving professionals, died after being struck by a truck while training. He was 51.

Rebellin was riding near the town of Montebello Vicentino in northern Italy when he was hit by a truck near a motorway junction. The vehicle did not stop, although Italian media reported that the driver may have been unaware of the collision.

Local police are working to reconstruct the incident and find the driver.

Rebellin had only retired from professional cycling last month, bringing to an end a career that had spanned 30 years. He last competed for Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek and the UCI Continental team posted a tribute on its social media accounts.

“Dear Davide, keep pedaling, with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion as always,” the Italian team said. “This is not how we imagined the future together and it is not fair to have to surrender so suddenly to your tragic absence.”

“To your family, your loved ones, your friends and all the enthusiasts who, like us, are crying for you right now, we just want to say that we imagine you on a bicycle, looking for new roads, new climbs and new challenges even up there, in the sky.”

Rebellin’s successes included victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as winning a stage in the 1996 edition of the Giro d’Italia, which he also led for six stages.

Rebellin won silver in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games, but he was later stripped of his medal and banned for two years after a positive doping test. He had denied wrongdoing.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.