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Nairo Quintana ‘confides’ in CAS as racing future hangs in balance

Quintana is hoping for a quick resolution to the case in his favor so he can try to secure a spot on a WorldTour team for 2023.

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Nairo Quintana and his sporting future hang in the balance after his lawyers laid out the defense against the UCI in a hearing Wednesday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Colombian star is fighting charges leveled by the UCI after testing for traces of the opioid painkiller tramadol twice during controls in the 2022 Tour de France.

Quintana claims his innocence and is hoping CAS rules his way.

“I confide in CAS and the rules in order to move forward,” Quintana said in a video message. “I presented my defense before CAS. We listened to the lawyers from the UCI, and CAS will determine an answer in the coming weeks.”

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The high-profile case comes at a career crossroads for the 32-year-old Quintana, who denies he used tramadol during the Tour.

A return to form during the 2022 Tour with sixth overall after a few seasons riddled with injuries and other setbacks revived hopes for Quintana that he still had a lot to say in the WorldTour peloton.

Quintana is now facing an uncertain future, and the CAS ruling that’s expected to come within a few weeks could determine if he can land a contract for 2023.

Quintana was dropped by Arkéa-Samsic in the aftermath of the tramadol case.

Quintana had signed a three-year contract extension with the French team just days after his 2022 Tour, but the WorldTour-bound team later broke the deal after the UCI revealed tramadol positives in August.

Tramadol currently is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency — it will be added to the official banned list in 2024 — but the UCI prohibitive its use during competition.

The UCI rules do not implicate a racing ban or other disciplinary action because it not officially on the WADA banned list, and Quintana was allowed to continue racing.

Quintana skipped a planned start at the Vuelta a España in August to prepare his defense, but returned to racing at the UCI Road World Championships last month.

After the UCI cited two separate controls revealed the presence of the painkiller, the cycling governing body disqualified Quintana from the Tour and removed all the UCI points he acquired during the Tour, a decision that had major implications for Arkéa-Samsic’s quest to secure a WorldTour license for 2023.

On Wednesday, Quintana was joined by an Italian and Colombian lawyer, as well as a contracted medical expert.

The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that the team’s legal defense questions why the Tour samples were tested at a lab in Geneva that was not accredited by WADA, and inquired why samples were not taken to a nearby WADA-approved lab in Lausanne that they argue is more effective and accurate.

The UCI did not comment on the hearing.

Quintana is hoping for a quick resolution to the case in his favor so he can try to secure a spot on a WorldTour team for 2023.

Sources tell VeloNews that teams are waiting for the outcome of the case before considering their options. Both Ag2r-Citroën and Astana-Qazaqstan confirmed publicly they are not pursuing a contract with Quintana while the case remains in limbo.