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Cyclist at U.S. pro road championships cleared of doping violation, lawyer says

An American rider at the U.S. professional championships in Greenville, South Carolina, this weekend was charged with a non-analytical doping violation, but his lawyer said he was found not guilty of a doping offense.

The rider was notified of the violation on September 2 and requested an expedited arbitration hearing prior to the championships. The hearing was held Sept. 14 in Denver. According to the rider’s lawyer Howard Jacobs, a 14-hour arbitration was held, after which the arbitrators ruled that the athlete did not commit a doping offense and is therefore free to compete.

The rider was charged with possessing doping products in 2007, sources said.

The rider declined to comment on the case. Out of concern for the rider’s privacy, VeloNews.com has opted not to publish his name.

The non-analytical violation charge stems from alleged dealings with former rider Joe Papp, who in February pleaded guilty in a Pennsylvania federal court to conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone and recombinant erythropoietin, that he had imported from the Chinese Shandong Kexing Bioproducts company.

The rider hired Howard Jacobs as his attorney; Jacobs represented Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and Kayle Leogrande in their doping violation defenses.

USADA protocol allows an athlete or USADA to request an expedited hearing if a resolution is needed prior to a significant competition. These competitions can include the Olympic Games, Pan-American Games or world championship competition.

The professional championships this week are a qualifying event for the world championships, as the road race winner is an automatic selection for the worlds team.

Other athletes, including cyclists, have been notified of doping violations as a result of having allegedly conspired with Papp, however this is the first case to go to a hearing, sources said.

When USADA has determined a doping violation may have occurred, notice is sent to the athlete, the national governing body, the international governing body, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Olympic Committees athlete ombudsman. USADA chief executive officer Travis Tygart declined to discuss the specifics of any ongoing doping cases.

VeloNews also contacted USA Cycling president Steve Johnson and USOC athlete ombudsman John Ruger; both men declined to comment.

Sources expect USADA to hand down more non-analytical violations to several domestic cyclists in the coming weeks.

Story corrected to reflect the arbitration panel’s decision after VeloNews heard from Jacobs.