A year on from the Spanish Supreme Court's decision to overturn the doping ban imposed following a positive EPO test at the 2005 Vuelta a España, Roberto Heras has launched a legal suit against the Spanish cycling federation and the Spanish Sports Council (CSD) for loss of earnings. Heras, who has been reinstated as the victor of that 2005 race, is claiming €1 million.
Spanish radio station Onda Cero reported this morning (Friday) that Heras' legal team had lodged their claim the previous day. It is based on lost earnings and endorsements. Onda Cero also pointed out that such a claim could not be lodged again following the introduction of a new anti-doping law in Spain that prevents such action being taken.
Former Kelme, US Postal and Liberty Seguros rider Heras has always insisted he is innocent of doping. After his record-breaking fourth Vuelta title had been stripped from him by the Spanish federation and handed to runner-up Denis Menchov, Heras took legal action, opting not to do so via the sporting judicial system but though Spain's civil courts.
In 2011, a legal tribunal in Valladolid ruled in favour of Heras, whose legal team had claimed the testing process on his sample had been flawed. According to their ruling, there were a number of irregularities, including the handover of the samples at room temperature almost 40 hours after they were taken by a person or company that was unknown.
The Spanish federation, backed by government lawyers representing the CSD, challenged the verdict in Spain's Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal and upheld the decision to clear Heras of the doping ban. This led to Heras’s reinstatement as the victor of the 2005 Vuelta.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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