Hamilton optimistic, but proceedings kept open

By Anthony Tan

While Tyler Hamilton's three-day hearing with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) finished on March 2 in Denver, Colorado, the final outcome is still unknown. A decision was expected to be handed down tomorrow (March 12) on whether the 34 year-old former Phonak rider is guilty of homologous blood doping - in which he failed three out of four tests during the period from August to September 2004 - but according to a short statement on Tyler Hamilton's website, www.tylerhamilton.com, the hearing is still open.

"Although testimony is complete, the hearing is not officially 'closed'," wrote Hamilton. "The panel of three arbitrators have decided to keep the proceedings open. We are not entirely sure why, but apparently this can happen."

Ever since failing tests carried out at the Athens Olympic Games (the blood sample from the second test was frozen, rendering the outcome invalid) and the Vuelta a España (Hamilton failed two out of two tests for homologous blood doping), the popular rider from Marblehead, Massachusetts, has strongly denied any involvement in blood doping, and continued to maintain his innocence - even when his former Swiss-registered team fired him last November after they initially failed to make the cut for the UCI's ProTour.

Subsequent to this, along with a number of rider and staff changes - which included the sacking of Santiago Perez, who tested positive for the same offence and was recently awarded a two-year suspension - Phonak were reinstated back into the ProTour on February 1 this year.

According to Hamilton, a decision will be given 10 days from the date the case officially closes. "We will keep you posted," he wrote. "Tyler and Haven are optimistic. Tyler is back on his bike training."

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