Contributed by Mitja Bricelj
Tomaz Nose won the Tour of Slovenia last year. Well, or maybe he didn't. The Slovenian cycling federation issued a statement on August 11 saying that Tomaz Nose will face "disqualification and removing [of his] winning status in the race 'Tour de Slovenie 2006'. He has an obligation to return all awards and money 15 days from when the Cycling Federation of Slovenia document was officially launched. There is also a prohibition of attending races in a 20-month period from November 2, 2006 to July 5, 2008."
Nose also won this year's Tour of Slovenia, a race which falls into the time period where he is disallowed to race. The rider from Slovenia gave a press conference in Ljubljana yesterday in which he declared that he held a TUE (therapeutic use exception). He claimed to have had health problems in 2005 and was prescribed Testoviron, a banned substance.
Because of the ban, he asked the national anti-doping agency for an exemption and "They agreed with this and they issued a certificate of approval for therapeutic use. I have spoken with the official representative [doctor] from the Olympic committee of Slovenia and he confirmed that this document is enough for attending all cycling races."
At the press conference Nose presented several documents, including the TUE certificate issued by the Olympic committee, his request for the TUE application, results from labs in Austria (positive sample) and Switzerland (negative), and a certificate from the Healthcare centre in Novo mesto.
The rider also said he was informed that Dr Josko Osredkar, doctor and member of the Olympic committee of Slovenia, forwarded the TUE application to the world anti-doping agency (WADA) in Aigle and he declared that "due to the regulations [if no comment is sent from WADA that means confirmation] I accepted [the case] as [being] solved."
The Slovenian rider was informed on August 7th that he returned a positive finding in the 2006 Tour of Slovenia, more than one year after the race happened. Samples were tested in Austria and Switzerland, with the former producing a positive and the latter a negative result.
Nose was very dissatisfied that "Due to the regulations of the UCI I should [have been] informed about the opened case from the Slovenian cycling federation in two days, which has not happened. So due to this fact I couldn't ask for a test of the B sample."
In the August 7 meeting it was cleared up that the TUE was only valid for Slovenian races and a UCI race would have required an additional UCI TUE. "It was too late to see my mistake – but due to my conversation in the past with the representative from the Olympic committee of Slovenia I didn't know that this kind of document is obligatory."
The rider reiterated that the medicine was strictly used for medical purposes, not as a performance enhancing substance. He also has support from his team and sponsor and even Martin Hvastija, the selector of the Slovenian national cycling team, who stated that "I'm shocked due to the decision of Slovenian antidoping commission, more precisely: due to the rigorousness of punishment of Tomaz Nose."
He continued that he presumed the cyclist innocent until proven otherwise, but emphasized that he will have to respect the decision and will likely not be able to select Nose for the Worlds in Stuttgart.
Bogdan Fink, the general manager of cycling team Adria Mobil also made clear that they will file an official complaint to the Slovenian antidoping commission. "We faced a great damage to our cycling team Adria Mobil and main sponsor. It irritates me that some people now want to show Tomaz Nose as a doping cyclist. He always took the TUE certificate with him and nobody said that this is not valid."
In a first reaction to the press conference Dr. Osredkar stated that "Mr Nose should know the rules. It is true that I have issued for him a certificate of approval for therapeutic use, but only for the area which we are responsible for; that means only for races of national championships, not for international races – this is covered by other officials and organisations and he should get this certificate from them."
The doctor continued that "Every cyclist should know the rules and regulations," and added that he had done everything in good manner on his side. "I want to help him. It is clear that he doesn't want to use doping substances." But the doctor felt Nose will have to face the consequences, even though he felt the punishment was too high.
The case is heavily discussed in the Slovenian media and with appeals surely to follow stay tuned for more on this.
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