Pat McQuaid has justified the UCI’s late decision to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the dismissal of doping charges against Alberto Contador, claiming that the UCI legal team was stretched to even make the final deadline of March 24.
Contador was cleared of doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) on February 15. The UCI received the official case dossier a few days later and had 30 days to decide on an appeal.
“It’s very simple: the UCI is an international federation that has somewhat limited internal resources in the legal and anti-doping departments. We recieved the dossier on February 24. At that time our main lawyers were heavily involved in the Pellizotti and Cauchioli cases. As soon as that was out of the way, which was in the first couple days of the 30 day period, we started into the file.” McQuaid told Cyclingnews at the track world championships in Apeldoorn.
“Some of it came in Spanish and had to be translated. I can tell you our chief lawyer worked solidly including evenings and two weekends to reach the 24th of March, and he was at his limit to do so. It's a difficult, complex case and it took us time to do it. We were stretched to reach the deadline.”
Contador has confirmed he will ride the Giro d’Italia in May and may also ride the Tour de France in July. After being found not guilty by the Spanish Cycling Federation he is free to race until any final verdict. However, he could lose any results he achieves if he is found guilty of doping by CAS.
Tour de France general director Christian Prudhomme has called for a final verdict from CAS before the start of the Tour de France on July 2. McQuaid admitted that it is unlikely that a verdict will be reached before the Giro d’Italia but hopes the case can be resolved before the start of the Tour de France.
“There's a process - I'm not fully familiar with the exact details of the process. At this point in time, both sides have to prepare depositions to go to the CAS and they have so many days to do that. We've already asked CAS to start looking for arbitrators, and the CAS have to find the arbitrators to do the job. All of this takes time,” McQuaid explained.
“In complex legal cases like this, these aren't things you can do overnight. I don't see how it's feasible to do so in the time frame before the Giro, but I do see that it could be feasible to do so in the time before the Tour.”
“I haven't studied the arguments on both sides, and I don't know what are the elements in the appeal we will be preparing, or what are the elements in the defence Contador's team will be preparing, or how long it will take. That has to go to the CAS arbitrators before the hearing, so it all takes time.”