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Though he missed much of the 2014 season due to a provisional suspension, and his name may well forever be associated with doping, Roman Kreuziger will not file a lawsuit for damages, or to reclaim legal expenses.
Jan Stovicek, the Czech attorney for Roman Kreuziger told VeloNews Monday that Kreuziger would not seek compensation or reimbursement. Stovicek successfully helped his client become the first athlete to avoid a sanction after facing doping charges based on the bio-passport system, which monitors blood values, and fluctuations, over an extended period of time and can trigger a sanction without a positive drug test.
“Roman took the position to drop all of this behind him. It’s history for him,” Stovicek said. “He’s happy it’s closed, he wants to look forward, to focus on racing, to the Tour de France this year. He doesn’t wish to bring up any claims, or any damages.”
The UCI sanctioned the Tinkoff-Saxo rider in 2014 for anomalies in his biological passport during two distinct periods — from March to August 2011 and April 2012 to the end of the 2012 Giro d’Italia — when he was riding for Astana.
Kreuziger was left off Tinkoff’s Tour de France squad last year due to the charges. He resumed racing last September after the Czech Olympic Committee cleared him of the charges, but the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) reopened the case a month later when the UCI appealed the Czech committee’s decision.
On Friday the UCI and WADA said in a joint statement that, “based on the availability of newly obtained information … [they] have come to the conclusion that … there is, at this stage, no basis to proceed further.”
The decision to drop the case came days before a CAS hearing, which was scheduled for June 10. A major part of Kreuziger’s defense was the explanation that his elevated reticulocyte count was due to taking L-Thyroxine for hypothyroidism, which, according to Kreuziger, was supported by his visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis.
Stovicek said that he did not know which specific piece of evidence had convinced the UCI or WADA, adding that the Czech Olympic Committee, which had initially requested Kreuziger visit the Mayo Clinic, sent his physical examination to CAS, the UCI, and WADA, in February.
“We don’t know, we didn’t get any official notification what was the new gathered information, so we can only guess,” he said. “The fact is we have been working on this case for a long time — me for one year, and Roman for two years. Over time we sent a lot of information, including six expert opinions on the explanation of his blood values, problems with how his samples were improperly transported, stored and analyzed, his polygraph results … and of course, Roman went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a famous institution, on the request of the Czech Olympic Committee, where he was physically examined. I think this element was important.
“In my opinion this is a question for UCI and WADA. We don’t know what made them decide, we can only guess that it was all the information we presented over time, since November, when it was presented in CAS proceedings. In my view it’s like a mosaic, you put it all together, and you have the results. Obviously we were convinced from the beginning that Roman never doped, but I can only guess what information caused them to withdraw the appeals.”
Asked if Kreuziger’s Tinkoff-Saxo team might take action to reclaim damages after paying his salary during missed competition in 2014, Stovicek said he did not know, and that he could not speak on behalf of the team.
“The position of the team may be something different, I’m not sure,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s reasonable to open court proceedings, to start a fight, it’s not really positive for anyone. For me personally, I share Roman’s view, he doesn’t want to waste more time, more money, more stress … he wants to focus on racing. I think it is in benefit of all parties to see it this positive way.”
Tinkoff-Saxo management had no immediate comment. Following Friday’s announcement, the team issued a statement that it would “evaluate the implications of this decision,” adding that “no further comments will be made at this stage.”
Stovicek said that he was very happy to have seen the case dropped, stressing that both he and Kreuziger view the bio-passport as an effective and important tool in combating doping in sport, but that cases need to be considered more efficiently so that athletes don’t miss large chunks of time during the process.
“I am very happy, of course, because the whole time I have been believing strongly in Roman, and because I knew how it impacted his morale, his psychology,” Stovicek said. “It’s not easy to compete when you are worrying about the future, so I’m glad that it’s over, it’s a big relief for Roman. Also, I’m glad that the bio-passport shows to be an efficient tool, and that it’s able to identify if people have doped or not doped. I think it will be a most important tool for the anti-doping fight. I think it’s very important to work with this tool to make it more perfect in its application; it will be crucial in future years.
“Our hope is that in the future we all will be able to develop application of bio-passport so that it is more efficient and can be enforced with shorter delays,” Stovicek added. “It’s something we all need to work with, but the application must be more efficient. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a long-term adjustment by experts, but maybe in time the application is more developed, and after more experience, it will be more efficient, with shorter delays.”