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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
WADA appeals Alberto Contador case

Associated Press

GENEVA -- Sport's highest court is to ask the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Cycling Union to combine forces in their appeals against Alberto Contador's acquittal on doping charges.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday it had registered WADA's challenge to the Spanish cycling federation's decision to clear Contador, who tested positive for clenbuterol en route to his third Tour de France victory last year.

The Spanish federation accepted Contador's defense that he inadvertently consumed the banned substance by eating contaminated beef.

The WADA appeal filed late Tuesday followed the UCI's decision last week to take the case to CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The court said in a statement that CAS rules mean "it is possible to consolidate the two cases, if all parties agree.

"The parties will now have the opportunity to file written submissions including all their arguments and evidence," said CAS, which has sent a copy of WADA's appeal to lawyers for Contador and the Spanish body.

Last year, WADA and UCI successfully teamed up at CAS to get another top Spanish rider, Alejandro Valverde, banned two years for doping when his national federation refused to sanction him.

CAS already faces a tight schedule to hear the Contador case and reach a verdict before the Tour starts July 2.

The court repeated Wednesday that it was "ready to establish a procedural calendar allowing for the settlement of the dispute before the end of June."

In a typical CAS procedure, an appeal is heard by a panel of three lawyers. One is appointed by the court and each side in the dispute can nominate one.

If the panel rejects the UCI and WADA appeals, Contador could then defend his Tour title. If found guilty of doping, Contador faces a two-year ban and loss of his Tour victory.

Contador, who has won two stage races in Spain this season, can keep racing until CAS issues a ruling.

He was provisionally suspended by the UCI last August, then resumed his racing career last month after being cleared by the Spanish cycling body's disciplinary committee.

The World Anti-Doping Code regards clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent that burns fat and builds muscle, as a zero-tolerance drug. Athletes can escape sanctions only if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

Valverde was banned worldwide for two years after a CAS panel accepted WADA and UCI arguments that he doped with the blood-boosting hormone EPO and was connected to the Operation Puerto investigation. Valverde led cycling's world rankings when his suspension was confirmed in May.

The CAS verdict ended a frustrating case for the UCI and WADA, which were unable to persuade Spanish cycling officials to investigate Valverde. The case hinged on whether evidence seized in Madrid during the Puerto probe could be used in court.