By Cyclingnews staff
The long awaited decision on the Tyler Hamilton blood doping case should be out very soon, according to sources within the UCI. "The verdict is expected to be announced on Monday," confirmed a senior UCI source to Cyclingnews this weekend.
While the official said he had no idea which way the verdict would go, there is some speculation within US cycling that Hamilton will not only be cleared, but that he could even line up in the Tour of Georgia this week.
"I've heard a rumour that Tyler Hamilton may be part of the race," said a prominent US cycling source today. "The decision is imminent, and the talk over here is that he is going to get off. A rumour is a rumour, but that is what some have been saying."
If so, the verdict will be a massive boost for the Marblehead rider and a big setback to the UCI and WADA, who have insisted all along that the test for homologous blood doping, introduced in time for the Olympic Games last Summer, was 100% reliable.
Hamilton returned positive tests for blood transfusions on two occasions last year, firstly after winning the Olympic title and then during the Vuelta a España. He was later allowed keep his gold medal when the 'B' blood sample from Athens was found to have been incorrectly stored by officials, preventing any verification of the initial result.
Hamilton has maintained his innocence from the start, vowing to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland should the initial ruling go against him. For their part, the UCI and WADA have been equally adamant that the test is watertight and provided proof of doping.
Hamilton's hearing with the USADA began in Denver on February 27 and continued until March 2. A ruling was expected within a couple of weeks, but no verdict has been delivered in the month and a half since. Some observers have seen the delay as an indication of doubt about the test's reliability.
Should Hamilton indeed be cleared on Monday, the case is unlikely to end there. "The UCI will wait and see what happens in America, with regards to the verdict. If necessary, we will take it to CAS after that," said the UCI official.
So, even if the Olympic TT champion does line out in Augusta on Tuesday for stage one of the 2005 Dodge Tour of Georgia, the battle may be far from over.