The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will give verdicts on four cycling doping cases in the near future, according to the Associated Press. All four cases stemmed from the UCI's biological passport program, which was started with cooperation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The next CAS hearing is on February 25 for Francesco De Bonis, who was handed a two-year suspension and fine by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI). The Italian was one of the first five cases opened by the UCI using its biological passport after it detected abnormal values in his profile. His suspension runs from June 18, 2009, to June 17, 2011. Following the initial suspension, De Bonis was subsequently found positive for third generation Erythropoietin (EPO), CERA, in a control taken two days before the start of the 2009 Giro d'Italia.
Next up is Franco Pellizotti, who has a hearing on March 2. The Italian is facing charges of biological passport irregularities and could face up to a two-year ban. The UCI first suspended him, but then the Italian national anti-doping court cleared him. However, the UCI followed up by appealing that decision to CAS.
Meanwhile, there are two other biological passport-related cases awaiting verdicts from CAS. Pietro Caucchioli was among those first named as an alleged doping offender when the UCI announced the first biological passport-based doping cases in 2009. He gave his defense to CAS in December.
Finally, Tadej Valjavec of Slovenia is also awaiting a decision from CAS. Valjavec was sidelined by the UCI in May of last year but was subsequently cleared of doping charges by the National Anti-Doping Commission of Slovenia in July. The UCI then appealed the Slovenian body's decision to CAS. Valjavec presented his defense to CAS in January.
According to the Associated Press, over 850 cyclists have given blood samples since 2008. Other sports federations have been keeping an eye on the program while deciding whether to adopt a similar effort.
The decisions in these cases could set a definitive precedent as to whether the UCI's Biological Passport Program will stand up in international court.
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