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CAS upholds Schumacher ban from Tour positive

Stefan Schumacher (R) and lawyer Michael Lehner after the first CAS hearing for his positive in the Olympics in July, 2009.

Stefan Schumacher (R) and lawyer Michael Lehner after the first CAS hearing for his positive in the Olympics in July, 2009. (Image credit: AFP Photo)

German Stefan Schumacher has lost his appeal against a two-year ban resulting from his positive anti-doping test for EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced today that it has upheld the decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI) to make world-wide the ban imposed by the French anti-doping agency (AFLD).

The decision follows one from last October where a French superior court shot down Schumacher's appeal against the AFLD ban.

While the CAS soundly defeated all of the points raised in Schumacher's defense, it granted him one small victory, with the start date of the ban pushed back to August 28, 2008 - a ruling that makes him eligible to race by the end of this year.

The decision by CAS is a landmark ruling in that it is the first time it has allowed a regional ban by a national anti-doping authority to be extended world-wide by a sport's governing body.

The court said that the recognition of the extension came only because the AFLD was a "competent anti-doping organisation" and that it was "valid from a procedural point of view". The court also explained that it would not extend a decision which would be contrary to the anti-doping rules in force.

The ruling will be of particular interest to Alejandro Valverde, who is currently trying to stop the UCI from making his two-year ban by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), which allegedly linked his blood samples to evidence from Operación Puerto, effective to the rest of the world.

Schumacher's defense attorneys argued that the positive test was fraught with procedural errors and should be thrown out, but the CAS rejected each argument.

The German was one of four riders found positive for the third-generation erythropoeitin, CERA (Mircera) at the 2008 Tour de France. Italian Riccardo Riccò was declared positive during the race from a urine test, while Schumacher, his Gerolsteiner teammate Bernhard Kohl and Riccò's Saunier Duval teammate Leonardo Piepoli were found positive in post-Tour analysis of blood samples.

The AFLD took an unconventional approach by targeting riders who showed irregular urine test results which could not be declared positive, and then re-testing the rider's samples for CERA.

The CERA positive of Schumacher was announced in October, 2008, three months after the Tour de France. He went on to test positive for the same drug in re-analysis of samples from the Olympic Games from August, 2008, and has also appealed those results to CAS.

Schumacher objected to the testing on several points, first that the chain of custody was not respected, that the additional control was not anonymous, and that the detection method was not valid.

The CAS rejected all of those points, finding that the re-analysis was justified, there was no evidence of contamination or chain-of-custody errors, and that the control was anonymous.

With the change to the date of his suspension, Schumacher will now be eligible to race again at the end of August this year.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.