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by Shane Stokes
August 21, 2014
With the clock ticking down to the Vuelta a España, Roman Kreuziger will learn Wednesday if he will be given a green light to take part in the race.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is hearing his appeal against the UCI’s provisional suspension against him, taken because of suspicious biological passport readings.
“The CAS arbitration has been conducted on an expedited basis,” said the body in a statement. “At the request of the parties, the panel of arbitrators will hear the parties at the hearing today and then issue its decision at the end of the day, considering that the possible participation of Mr Kreuziger at the Vuelta a España 2014 will depend on the outcome of this arbitration.
On June 28 Kreuziger and his Tinkoff Saxo team revealed that he was under investigation for alleged bio-passport irregularities, but insisted he was innocent. The Czech rider had been due to ride the Tour de France. However, with the case hanging over him, he was sidelined by his squad.
It later said the decision was taken in order to avoid negative publicity at the race plus extra stress for the riders on the squad.
However at the end of July the team said that in the absence of a ruling by the UCI, it had decided to allow Kreuziger to return to competition and to compete in the Tour of Poland.
Team owner Oleg Tinkov added on Twitter that he would take action of his own against the governing body. He complained that the UCI should have told him Kreuziger had biological passport issues prior to his move from Astana at the end of 2012.
However, bio passport expert Robin Parisotto told CyclingTips that the nature of the system means that it takes time both for anomalies to surface and also for riders to have time to defend themselves.
The UCI then followed up on the team’s declaration by saying that it was handing the rider a provisional sanction. This action blocked his return in Poland, and made his planned participation in the Vuelta a España unlikely. Kreuziger then confirmed on August 4 that he will appeal the decision to CAS.
“I am deeply frustrated by this current situation, which makes it impossible for me to do my job and ride my bike,” he stated then. “I’m not a cheat, and I have not committed any doping offence. Experts confirm that there is no evidence of any alleged anti-doping rule violation in my case.
“This has been going on since June 2013, and still there is no formal case opened against me. Despite this I’m now provisionally suspended. I sincerely hope that this situation can be resolved quickly and not turned into a political matter.”
For its part, the UCI has said that his passport shows significant irregularities.
Today’s decision is only about the provisional suspension. Whichever way CAS rules, the biological passport case itself is set to continue.