Kreuziger’s season starts under cloud of ongoing doping case

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider faces a ban of 2-4 years stemming from his biological passport case

AL MUDAYQ, Oman (VN) — Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) will begin his 2015 season Tuesday in the Tour of Oman despite an upcoming biological passport case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The six-day Tour of Oman starts at Bayt al Naman Castle. Its lineup contains several top stars, including reigning Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and sets cyclists up for the remainder of the season. Already next month, the top WorldTour races continue with Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Kreuziger’s schedule beyond Oman has not yet been announced. Much of his season — and career — will hinge on the result of his biological passport case.

The CAS told VeloNews last month it has yet to schedule a hearing date, which frees the 28-year-old Czech to race. The Swiss court could clear him, but if it rules the other way, he could face a two- to four-year doping ban.

The case stems from abnormal passport readings that the UCI reported last year ahead of the Tour de France. The UCI noted off blood readings from 2011 and 2012, the years Kreuziger raced with Astana.

Tinkoff raced him anyway later in the Tour of Poland, but the UCI stepped in with a provisional suspension. That held until the Czech Olympic Committee cleared its rider on September 22.

Kreuziger returned to race a series of one-day races last October, and arrived this weekend to begin his season in Oman. The biological passport case still lingers, however.

The UCI with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed the Czech Republics’s decision October 23 to the high court. The court has yet to set a date, but judging on its prior passport rulings, it does not look good for the cyclist who placed fifth in the 2013 Tour de France, won a stage in the 2012 Giro d’Italia, and rode to victory in the 2013 Amstel Gold Race.

When Italy cleared Franco Pellizotti, the UCI appealed to the court and won. Italian Pietro Caucchioli appealed his case to the Swiss court after being banned at home and lost.

Other cyclists like Leif Hoste and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke are serving bans stemming from their passport.

The biological passport, introduced to cycling in 2008, is attributed with helping clean up the sport. It tracks blood and urine values throughout cyclists’ careers to build profiles. Consistent readings are OK, but abnormal readings could indicate doping.

Kreuziger agues the UCI’s medics mishandled his samples and that he had an under-active thyroid gland that could have altered the readings.

In January, he announced he passed a polygraph test to prove he did not dope, use EPO, or receive blood transfusions. “I don’t have anything to hide and I am doing everything in my power to clear my name,” he said.

Kreuziger already admitted to working with banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari in his first year as a professional. He said he only consulted Ferrari for training plans and did not receive a ban.