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Home Court Advantage Ends for Riders Accused of Doping

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Spain, Sept 25, 2014 – Cycling’s world governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced on Thursday a change to how riders will be judged if they test positive for banned substances.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

Previously it had been up to a rider’s individual national federation to decide if they were guilty of doping or not and to mete out a punishment if need be. But following the decisions of the South African and Czech federations recently to exonerate Daryl Impey and Roman Kreuziger respectively, the UCI has decided to take that responsibility away from the federations.

“In order to further improve UCI’s anti-doping processes, the 14 member Management Committee proposed the establishment of an Anti-doping Tribunal to deal with cases involving international athletes, instead of these disciplinary proceedings being delegated to National Federations,” said the UCI in a statement.

“The tribunal would be made up of judges specialised in anti-doping, fully independent of the UCI, with the aim to provide all top level athletes with the same consistent process and a clear, short timetable. This should ensure consistency and uniform quality in the decisions, significantly reduce the number of cases that go to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) on appeal and lift the operational burden from the National Federations.”

Several times, the UCI has appealed to CAS to reverse decisions taken by national federations to exonerate riders after they failed doping tests. Following the Kreuziger case, the UCI dropped a heavy hint that they would appeal.

Impey tested positive for Probenecid in February but was cleared by his federation in August after they accepted his explanation that he had ingested contaminated gel capsules bought at a chemists.

Kreuziger was provisionally suspended by his Tinkoff-Saxo team in June due to abnormalities in his biological passport dating from 2011 and 2012, when he rode for Astana. But three days ago, the Czech Olympic Committee cleared him of any wrongdoing.

UCI president Brian Cookson had previously stated that Kreuziger’s biological passport showed “a very strong indication of manipulation” while the organization said in a statement that they were considering an appeal. Most famously, the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) both successfully appealed to CAS against the Spanish Federation’s decision to acquit Alberto Contador, who had just won his third Tour de France — of which he was later stripped — despite him testing positive for clenbuterol.

The messy process saw Contador continue racing for around a year and a half after failing a test and being retroactively stripped of several results, including a victory in the 2011 Giro d’Italia. The new tribunal is due to start operating in 2015.

The UCI Management Committee also decided to award the 2017 World Championships to Bergen in Norway. The 2015 edition will be held in Richmond, USA while the 2016 edition has been awarded to Doha in Qatar.