A Spanish civil court has ruled that Roberto Heras should be cleared of doping charges linked to his 2005 Vuelta a España win.
Europa Press has reported that the Contencioso Administrativo del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Castilla y León, based in Valladolid, ruled in favor of the now-retired Spaniard, who has always maintained there were procedural flaws in his controversial case.
Heras was stripped of his 2005 Vuelta crown and handed down a two-year sentence after testing positive for EPO in the final individual time trial.
Heras challenged the case in civil court, opting not to take the legal fight to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying that testers violated laboratory protocol and mishandled his urine samples taken on the 20th stage of the 2005 Vuelta.
“This is good news for me,” Heras was quoted in the Spanish daily MARCA on Friday. “We presented our defense, showing what we thought was wrong with the procedure and other irregularities, and now the court has agreed with us.”
There was no immediate reaction from Spanish cycling federation officials, the UCI or CAS on whether the civil court ruling would be recognized. The ruling, if it stands, could set a new precedent as it’s one of the first cases where an athlete has successfully challenged a disciplinary ruling within civil court. Spanish cycling federation officials told MARCA it would study the decision, but would likely appeal the ruling to Spain’s high civil court.
Heras was stripped of his title in the wake of his EPO positive, and the victory was awarded to runner-up Denis Menchov.