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Cardoso to fight UCI ban: ‘I have nothing to lose’

The 34-year-old Portuguese rider was banned four years for an EPO offense, but he said the case is not open and shut.

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Portuguese rider Andre Cardoso plans to fight the four-year doping ban handed to him by the UCI last week.

Cardoso, 34, said he hopes to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an effort to clear his name of any wrongdoing in the anti-doping case, which stems from a positive out-of-competition EPO test in 2017.

“I have nothing to lose because this case has already taken everything,” Cardoso told VeloNews. “I’ve already spent a lot of money and I want to do this to prove my innocence.”

Cardoso tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test performed at his home in Lisbon on June 18, 2017. He was notified of the positive test just days before the Tour de France, and was provisionally suspended by the UCI on the eve of the race. Cardoso rode with Trek-Segafredo during the 2017 season and was set to make his Tour debut that summer.

EPO cases are often open-and-shut affairs for anti-doping agencies, but Cardoso’s lingered for months. In June it was revealed to VeloNews that while Cardoso’s “A” sample showed signs of EPO, his “B” sample did not. Official documents from the Laboratoire Suisse d’Analyse du Dopage in Lausanne, Switzerland said the presence of EPO in the “B” sample was “doubtful but inconclusive.”

“The result of the analysis of the urine sample is doubtful but inconclusive regarding the presence of recombinant EPO,” reads the test report for the B sample.

A negative B sample should override a positive A sample, per WADA guidelines, which would result in no ban. But the laboratory listed Cardoso’s result as “Atypical Finding,” which left the door open for the UCI to pursue a ban against Cardoso under WADA code.

Cardoso appealed his ban in 2017, and the action set off a 16-month battle between his lawyers and the UCI. Cardoso said he spent more than 60,000 euros on the court case, paying lawyers and legal experts to argue against the UCI. Cardoso says he dipped into his savings and took a job as a cycling guide to pay for his defense.

“Why does the UCI need to take 16 months for my case?” Cardoso said. “It’s because if you spend more time, a rider needs more money to pay for that time.”

On November 15, the UCI made its ruling: it banned Cardoso for four years. The UCI declined to discuss specifics around Cardoso’s case but did release an official statement that read, in part: “The Anti-Doping Tribunal found the rider guilty of an anti-doping rule violation (use of Erythropoietin *) and imposed 4-year period of ineligibility on the rider.”

Cardoso says he has 21 days to file an official appeal to the UCI ruling, which places the deadline on December 6. He is investigating ways to pay for his defense, and says he may start a crowdfunding campaign to help him cover the costs of his case.

“I want a fair fight against the UCI,” Cardoso said. “Unless you have big money, that is difficult.”