By Andrew Hood
The UCI is poised to appeal the Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso doping cases if stiff racing bans are not handed out.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said Thursday cycling’s governing body would likely challenge anything less than two-year racing bans to the Court of Arbitration of Sport for the beleaguered Tour de France and Giro d’Italia champions.
“We have to wait and see the evidence that comes forward, but if we don’t agree with the ruling, the UCI would appeal,” McQuaid told VeloNews. “If we think the evidence doesn’t support the decision, we can appeal it to CAS.”
The Landis hearing opened Monday in Malibu with the ex-Phonak rider facing a two-year racing ban and the possibility of becoming the first rider to lose his title for doping in the Tour’s 104-year-old history.
McQuaid said the UCI is closely monitoring Landis’s U.S. Anti-Doping Agency proceeding and would exercise its right to appeal the case if it didn’t agree with the decision handed down by a three-member arbitration panel.
Landis, 31, failed doping controls taken after his dramatic stage victory across the Alps into Morzine. Tests revealed traces of synthetic testosterone in Landis’s urine.
So far, the Landis defense team has been hammering at the credibility of the French LNDD laboratory. Landis’s attorneys have alleged that technicians mishandled samples and botched testing procedures.
“The French lab hasn’t always been the greatest friend with the UCI, but in relation to their work and testing procedures, we would back up the lab completely,” McQuaid said. “I believe the lab has been putting up a good defense of their positions.”
Any appeal by the UCI wouldn’t come for months. The Landis hearing, held in a public forum for the first in a sport arbitration, is expected to continue through next week and a ruling from the arbitration panel could take several more weeks.
No breaks for Basso
In cycling’s other major doping scandal, Giro champion Basso is also facing a two-year ban after admitting to Italian anti-doping prosecutors earlier this month that he was involved in the Operación Puerto blood-doping ring.
Basso is currently banned from racing for 60 days as Italian prosecutors work on finalizing the disciplinary process. Italian authorities are considering offering Basso a possible ban reduction if he cooperates.
Last week, McQuaid angrily shot down any suggestions of a reduction unless Basso reveals new information that can help investigators get to the bottom of the doping scandal that continues to plague the sport.
Basso admitted he worked with alleged Puerto ringleader Eufemiano Fuentes, but stopped short of a full confession and insisted that he only intended to dope during the 2006 Tour.
That suggestion rankled McQuaid, who added that the UCI would press to have Basso stripped of his 2006 Giro crown if evidence reveals that the Italian was involved in illicit doping practices ahead of his victory in the Italian tour.
“Does he think we’re all idiots, or what?” McQuaid said concerning Basso’s position. “We’ll wait and see what CONI comes up with. If there was evidence that Basso doped in the Giro, I think we could take (the Giro) from him.”
Unfortunately for the UCI, that would open up the unsavory possibility of disqualifying one Puerto rider only to award the victory to another who’s also been implicated.
Last year’s Giro runner-up is José Enrique Gutiérrez, identified as the “Búfalo” in the Puerto papers, is another one of Fuentes’ alleged clients.