The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the doping charges against Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton was accused of receiving a homologous blood transfusion during the 2004 Vuelta a España and has been maintaining his innocence ever since. As the appeal was rejected, Hamilton will remain banned from pro cycling until September 22, 2006.
In an official press release, the CAS outlined the course of events which led to its decision: "On September 11, 2004, Tyler Hamilton won a stage of the Vuelta and underwent a blood test. The WADA accredited Laboratory in Lausanne/Switzerland reported that the sample provided by Hamilton was positive for the presence of transfused blood. On the basis of this report, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) initiated a disciplinary procedure which led to a hearing before the AAA [American Arbitration Association]. The AAA Panel found on April 18, 2005 that there had been a transfusion of a third person's blood to Hamilton and accordingly that an anti-doping rule violation had been committed by him. He was suspended from competition for a period of two years commencing April 18, 2005 and all of his competition results from September 11, 2004 including those obtained in the Vuelta competition were cancelled.
"Later, Tyler Hamilton filed an appeal with the CAS in order to request the annulment of the suspension. He challenged the reliability of the HBT [homologous blood transfusion] test which was applied to him on the basis that it was a 'brand new test'," it continued. "In a very detailed award, the CAS Panel has found that the HBT test as applied to the samples delivered by Hamilton at the Vuelta was reliable, that on September 11, 2004 his blood did contain two different red blood cell populations and that such presence was caused by blood doping by homologous blood transfusion, a prohibited method under the UCI rules. As a consequence of this anti-doping rule violation, the CAS Panel has confirmed the two years' suspension imposed on Hamilton."
However, Hamilton's suspension will end on September 22, 2006, as his former team Phonak suspended him on that very same day two years earlier. "In application of the UCI Rules and as a matter of fairness, the CAS Panel has decided that the two years' ineligibility should run from 23 September 2004 and not from 18 April 2005, as Tyler Hamilton voluntarily accepted a provisional suspension as from 23 September 2004," the communiqué stated.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is set on continuing his struggle to clear his name and make known alleged inconsistencies of the anti-doping system. "Based on my devastating personal experience over the last year and a half, I am committed to fighting for reform within the anti-doping movement," the Olympic champion said on his personal website. "I do support the anti-doping mission and USADA, however the current system has failed an innocent athlete and needs to change.
"Out of respect to fairness and the rights of all athletes, there should be clear separation between the agencies that develop new tests and those that adjudicate anti-doping cases. Credible, independent experts, not those who funded or developed the original methodology, should be charged with properly validating new tests," the statement continued.
"I don’t believe any athlete should be subjected to a flawed test or charged with a doping violation through the use of a method that is not fully validated or generates fluctuating results. I will also continue to support the formation of unions to help protect the rights of athletes. My goal is to keep other athletes from experiencing the enormous pain and horrendous toll of being wrongly accused."
The CAS also announced that it will communicate its ruling on the Gold medal won by Hamilton in the time-trial at the 2004 Olympic Games "in the near future". The procedure was initiated by the Russian Olympic Committee and Vjatcheslav Ekimov, who was second at the event.
Cyclingnews coverage of Tyler Hamilton's blood doping case
February 12, 2006 - Hamilton appeal rejected
January 10, 2006 - Hamilton faces CAS again
November 23, 2005 - Wire in the blood II: Hamilton's last hope
November 22, 2005 - Wire in the blood: Hamilton's last hope
October 6, 2005 - CAS to rule on Hamilton case by year-end
September 13, 2005 - Hamilton case heard, but not finalised
September 6, 2005 - Hamilton appeal to be heard this week
August 21, 2005 - Hamilton racing again
August 4, 2005 - Hamilton hearing on September 6
June 21, 2005 - Still no word on Hamilton hearing date
June 16, 2005 - Hamilton appeal hearing delayed
June 3, 2005 - Hamilton appeal is go
May 18, 2005 - Hamilton appeal set for June
April 29, 2005 - Tyler's side of things: Hamilton reacts to doping ban
April 22, 2005 - Hamilton: "The fight will continue"
April 20, 2005 - Armstrong comments on Hamilton verdict
April 19, 2005 - The Hamilton decision: Is he guilty and is the science perfect?
April 19, 2005 - Hamilton's defence
April 19, 2005 - Hamilton suspended for two years
April 18, 2005 - Hamilton's defence: The vanishing twin?
April 17, 2005 - Hamilton decision expected on Monday
April 13, 2005 - Hamilton awaits
March 14, 2005 - A longer wait for Hamilton
March 11, 2005 - Hamilton optimistic, but proceedings kept open
March 1, 2005 - Distributor plays down Hamilton role in IMAX movie
February 28, 2005 - Hamilton hearing starts
February 4, 2005 - Hamilton hearing date set
December 1, 2004 - Phonak: "Black day for cycling", Hamilton confirms sacking; UCI explains
November 30, 2004 - Hamilton sacking doesn't save Phonak
November 25, 2004 - Hamilton speaks out
November 18, 2004 - WADA code opens door to Hamilton appeal
October 22, 2004 - Hamilton vows to clear his name
October 21, 2004 - Russians appeal Hamilton's gold
October 1, 2004 - Pound weighs in to Hamilton controversy
September 29, 2004 - Russia to appeal against Hamilton decision
September 23, 2004 - Official: Hamilton's Olympic B test dropped
September 23, 2004 - Phonak claims one B test negative; Tyler Hamilton's statement
September 23, 2004 - Armstrong on Hamilton
September 22, 2004 - Hamilton suspended by Phonak
September 22, 2004 - Hamilton and Phonak protest innocence
September 21, 2004 - Hamilton fails blood test