Piti Poor Alejandro?
Perhaps CyclingNews.com has some sources inside the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Or perhaps they were reading more into the workings of the panel hearing the case involving Alejandro Valverde vs. CONI (and potentially the UCI and WADA). Regular reader Jeff provided an interesting link yesterday, to a story about the hearings in the Valverde case, which have just concluded in the last day or so.
In a press release that hit my email this morning, the CAS had this to say about the case:
During the hearing, the Panel informed the parties of a preliminary decision: the Panel considered that the requests filed by the UCI and WADA to suspend Alejandro Valverde world-wide for a period of two years could not be entertained by the CAS given that they were outside the scope of the present arbitration procedure (validity or not of the suspension of Valverde on Italian soil).
A final decision in the matter is not expected before March 2010.
This is quite a far cry from what CyclingNews.com has to say on the subject. Their article says:
Less good for Valverde is the news that the CAS has also indicated that the CONI is competent to rule on a sanction for alleged doping. Valverde’s legal team were hoping to show that the CONI stepped outside legal parameters in the way it obtained a blood bag seized during the Puerto affair. CONI then used DNA testing to compare a sample from this blood bag with a separate sample given by Valverde during a race on Italian soil. CONI subsequently announced the DNA tests had shown both came from Valverde and imposed its ban.
Perhaps it’s just me, but the wording of the press release seems to indicate that they haven’t made any such determination. The issue is whether or not CONI has the right to bring charges against Valverde and to sanction him. Judging by the press release, none of that has been decided (officially, at any rate) at this point in time. And whatever decision is made won’t likely come before sometime in March.
But like I said at the top, perhaps CyclingNews.com’s reporter has some information that hasn’t been publicly released yet. Whatever the case, one person’s mind is already made up. Ettore Torri (CONI’s prosecutor) had this to say about Valverde yesterday:
Valverde is a doper. Even the intention to use the contents of the blood bag is against the code laid down by WADA… The law must be equal towards everyone. [Spanish] Judge [Antonio] Serrano sent us all the documentation in order to take action against [Ivan] Basso and [Michele] Scarponi, but then refused to do it in Valverde’s case.
In a couple of months, we’ll see if the CAS panel agrees with Torri, or whether they find in favor of Valverde. Or both. They could, after all, say that clearly Valverde is a doper, but that CONI doesn’t have the standing to prosecute him. And then they might lift the ban in Italy. But I wouldn’t bet on that.
Tom Zirbel Turn In The Hotseat
Yeah, I know, it’s been a fortnight or so since news came out that Tom Zirbel’s A sample taken at an event way back in August came up positive for DHEA. Zirbel, who would have been on the Garmin squad this year, got canned by the team even before his contract would have begun. And he’s hoping to prove his innocence. With all that’s going on around him, at least Zirbel can find a bit of humor in the whole situation. As he recounts on his blog:
On a lighter note, I also have a t-shirt that says “cycling is dope” which I still think is a great shirt. So great, in fact, that I wore it to the opening and testing of the ‘B’ sample in Utah. Bad form? I thought it was funny, and I’m in need of laughs these days.
Sort of reminds me of the person who, knowing he was going to be laid off as part of a cost-cutting move, walked into his boss’ office with a Nike t-shirt that said “Just Do It” for the fateful meeting. (True story. And I still have the t-shirt.) Over at Podium Insight, Lyne posted a good interview with Zirbel. Will he eventually figure out what happened? Will the B sample confirm the initial findings? Hard to say at this point. But as the cyclist noted on his own blog:
I love the sport of cycling and more specifically I love racing my bike. But if that is taken away from me, I’m not going to give up on life or play the victim. Life is too full of OTHER cool and exciting things that I can dive into head first. It’s also far too short to dwell in the past and be miserable. Typing these words is much easier than putting their message into practice but I’m confident that if it comes to that, I can do it…with the continued support of my kick ass network of friends and family.
Good luck to Tom Zirbel. But I have this strange, nagging feeling I’ve heard his story before.
The Mysterious Case of Mr. Landis
Ever since the press release announcing that Floyd Landis and the OUCH-Maxxis team had parted ways, I’ve been wondering what team he would be riding for in 2010. One rumor had it that Landis would be riding for Rock Racing, assuming they were granted a Pro Continental license by the UCI. But so far, the Pirates of the Peloton (hmm … there’s a name for a team … maybe I’ll set one up for those of us who still have delusions of racing grandeur … ) have not been able to convince the honchos in Lausanne that they are worthy. And so far, Landis hasn’t signed with a team. It’s a shame, really, to see him sidelined. Over on the Bicycling.com web site, Joe Lindsey pens a thoughtful piece about Floyd’s comeback year (hat-tip to strbuk for the link).
I hope that Landis will find a team to ride with this year, and that he will have a better year, results-wise, than last. Then again, as “TheRealFloydL” said on his Twitter feed, maybe he’ll go for the hour record. (Just remember, Floyd, those track bikes are fixies. No coasting allowed — even if you want to.) Whatever Floyd Landis does, and whoever he rides for, I hope we get to see him back in action sometime soon.