By Anthony Tan
Judging from a recent statement released by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the case of Danilo Hondo and the suspension of his two-year ban from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by a Swiss civil court is far from over.
While WADA acknowledges the decision made by the Court of Appeal in Lausanne, Switzerland, a little over one week ago, the civil court placing a temporary suspension on Hondo's two-year ban for testing positive to the prohibited substance Carphedon at last year's Tour of Murcia, their statement notes that "the athlete has not yet submitted his brief on the merits of the case to the Court of Appeal" and "WADA may, at some stage, request the President of the Court of Appeal to reconsider the court's position on the suspension."
"To date, the athlete has only requested the suspension of the CAS award while his appeal is pending," the statement read.
"The suspension of the CAS Award was granted by the President of the Court of Appeal of Canton de Vaud, pending resolution of the appeal. This decision is not based on the merits of the case (which have yet to be filed by the athlete), and does not pre-judge the final outcome of the appeal. It is therefore misleading to claim that this latter decision from the Court of Appeal constitutes either an annulment of the CAS decision, or the raising of fundamental questions on the World Anti-Doping Code."
As a resident of Switzerland, Hondo is one of only a minority of athletes able to challenge a CAS ruling in a civil court; for non-Swiss residents, appeals against CAS rulings can only be made at the Federal Tribunal, Switzerland's highest court, and only if the case has been run contrary to the general principles of law.
"It's regrettable that we have different treatment for athletes based in Switzerland and athletes based outside," CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb told The Associated Press. "This is really a concern. We hope that the decision of the local court will not open a door, an invitation, to all athletes to establish their domiciles in Switzerland."
Cycling's governing body, the UCI, has indicated Hondo is able to start racing from April 1, 2006, but the 32 year-old is yet to find a team. Furthermore, the UCI's Code of Ethics prevents ProTour teams from hiring riders found guilty of doping infractions for up to four years; this includes Hondo, who was riding for Gerolsteiner at the time of his infraction.