Kashechkin case battles "the system"

The embattled Kazakh rider Andrey Kashechkin will have his day in court in Liege, Belgium, on...

The embattled Kazakh rider Andrey Kashechkin will have his day in court in Liege, Belgium, on Tuesday to contest the UCI's doping control procedures. Kashechkin sued the UCI after testing positive for a homologous blood transfusion following the Tour de France, saying the UCI's unannounced control a violation of his privacy. After being fired from his Astana team, the rider has taken a unique argument against the result, calling the unannounced control which resulted in the positive result a "violation of his human rights". Kashechkin's positive followed his compatriot and team-mate Alexander Vinokourov's transfusion positive which came during the Tour de France and forced the team to leave the race.

Kashechkin questioned the procedure of the doping control agents who found him on vacation with his family in Belek, Turkey on August 1, saying they seemed hurried. Kashechkin's lawyer, Christian Botteman, told AP on Friday that the control put him in a no-win situation. "He was controlled at 10:45 pm," Botteman said. "It was an abnormal situation. Yet, if he refused it, he would have been considered guilty."

Following the first positive result, the Kazakh federation president claimed that an independent French laboratory had done "repeated analyses" which had shown no abnormalities in the rider's blood. Botteman is expected to argue that athletes face difficulties when trying to use private analyses to counter doping positives.

The legal battle between the Kazakh and the UCI could have larger implications for the sport and the antidoping initiatives which seem to have begun to make inroads in the past year. "This is not a battle for or against doping, because we all are against doping. It a battle against the system which does not respect the fundamental rights of individuals," Botteman said.

However, the ProTour teams association, the IPCT, has joined the side of the UCI in the battle, saying that the fate of the sport is at risk. "If Kashechkin wins on the principle that only public authorities can take care of doping, then we can close shop," IPCT lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont said.

Kashechkin's lawyers will seek a provisional injunction which could allow Kashechkin to resume racing until the case is decided.

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