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Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Arbitration court hears cyclist Hamilton's appeal of ban

Associated Press

DENVER -- Olympic champion cyclist Tyler Hamilton appeared before the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday in hopes of having his blood-doping suspension lifted.

Hamilton and his lawyer, Howard Jacobs, argued their case at the Brown Palace hotel in downtown Denver in their final appearance before the panel, which will decide his fate within the next few weeks.

The hearing before the Swiss-based CAS, the highest court for sports cases in the world, lasted nearly 12 hours. Hamilton declined to comment during a lunch break other than to again assert his innocence. Jacobs didn't immediately return phone calls to The Associated Press after the hearing concluded.

Considered a possible successor to retired seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, Hamilton has denied any doping violation and has criticized the testing methods of cycling's international governing body. He was suspended for two years on April 18 by the independent American Arbitration Association.

His is the first case based on a test designed to detect the presence of someone else's red blood cells in a sample. A blood transfusion can increase endurance by providing extra oxygen-carrying red blood cells to muscles.

If Hamilton's two-year ban is upheld, he won't be able to race competitively until April 2007, by which time he'd be 36 years old.

Hamilton tested positive during the Spanish Vuelta in September 2004, a month after he won the time trial gold medal at the Athens Olympics. His initial blood sample in Athens also tested positive but that case was dropped because his backup specimen was mistakenly frozen and could not be analyzed. Still, the Russian Olympic Committee filed an appeal with the CAS seeking to strip Hamilton of his gold medal and give it to silver medalist Vyacheslav Ekimov.