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The UCI has said that it is awaiting further details from the hearing which cleared Daryl Impey of doping charges before deciding if it will accept or appeal the ruling.
The South African rider was told in June by his country’s national federation that he had tested positive for the banned diuretic Probenicid at an in-competition drug test at the country’s national time trial championships in February.
Impey, who races with the Orica GreenEdge WorldTour team, maintained his innocence. He insisted that he “had no knowledge of Probenicid nor have I ever taken the substance knowingly in any manner.”
The case was heard Thursday in Johannesburg yesterday. According to The Star newspaper in South Africa, the rider said that he had gone to a pharmacy to try to buy empty capsules to fill with bicarbonate of soda prior to the championships.
He intended taking the legal substance as a lactic acid buffer. He said the pharmacist initially said that he had no capsules, but that the rider was later contacted to say that capsules had been found.
According to the rider’s testimony, the pharmacist had handled probenicid immediately prior to serving Impey, and that cross-contamination had happened. Till receipts were produced and apparently confirmed the story.
The CEO Khalid Galant of South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS), Khalid Galant, said in a release that Impey’s lawyers had submitted a defence of ‘no fault or negligence.’
“Impey presented expert evidence from pharmacy professionals, pharmacologists and pharmacokinetic experts confirming that cross-contamination caused by the use of the pill-counter in such manner was plausible,” he explained.
“Under the Anti-Doping Rules, SAIDS is required to vigorously pursue all anti-doping rule violations within our jurisdiction. We did so and checked the veracity of Impey’s account to the fullest extent possible. We sought opinions from our own experts, which confirmed that cross-contamination was indeed possible in the manner proposed by Impey’s experts.” Impey has been cleared to return to competition immediately.
The news resulted in a mixed reaction on social media. Several riders said they were glad that Impey had been deemed not guilty, while a proportion of other commentators were sceptical about the defence given.
CyclingTips contacted the UCI Friday for the governing body’s reaction.
“The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS), which rendered the decision against Mr. Impey, has not yet provided its reasoned decision to the parties,” a spokesman said.
“Therefore the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will wait to receive the full decision in order to review the case. At this stage, the UCI will not comment further.”
In a post on his website, Impey has accepted that strict liability exists in the case. Under WADA and UCI rules, athletes are responsible for substances which are in their bodies, even if it is shown that they are consumed unintentionally.
Parallels have been drawn between his case and that of Alberto Contador. During the 2010 Tour de France anti-doping tests showed traces of clenbuterol. Contador denied knowingly using the substance which, like probenecid, is banned.
He was cleared by the Spanish federation but both WADA and the UCI appealed this to CAS. The court ultimately ruled that a contaminated supplement was the most likely cause, absolving him of deliberately ingesting clenbuterol. However, under the strict liability ruling, it handed him a lengthy ban and annulled his victory in that Tour plus a number of subsequent results.
Impey must wait for the UCI’s decision to know if the case is over or if he will have to mount a defence in CAS.