Hondo vows to fight on

German Sprinter Danilo Hondo will face a hearing of the Swiss Olympic Committee on Thursday after his positive test for the stimulant carphedon at the Vuelta a Murcia in March.

Hondo - who holds a Swiss licence, hence the venue - told radsportnews.com that he will fight "to the end" to prove his innocence of the charge. Hondo faces a two-year ban plus a further two years' exclusion from ProTour teams under the ProTour ethical charter, which would effectively end his career. With such a serious sanction hanging over him, Hondo plans to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the Swiss decision goes against him. "I cannot imagine never racing again," he said.

Hondo maintains he has never doped, and has delivered a sworn affidavit to that effect. "I hoped an analysis of my regeneration methods and food supplements would find an explanation. But today, I still cannot explain how this stuff got into my body. I ask myself this question every day," said Hondo.

Hondo will face the hearing accompanied by his lawyer Dr. Lehner and said he has named an expert from the Cologne laboratory as a witness. "The arbitration panel has also delegated an expert witness," said Hondo. "I take that as a good sign as it means from the judge's point of view the case is not so clear."

Although he said he hopes for an acquittal, Hondo declined to detail the grounds for his defence. However, in a press release issued by his manager, the Hondo camp has pointed out that the quantity of carphedon detected was very small, suggesting it might have been a contaminant in, for example, a food supplement. Hondo's management also pointed out that he had tested negative the previous day after winning stage 2 of the Vuelta a Murcia. That indicates that the test did not pick up a trace of carphedon left over from training, and Hondo's management points out that for Hondo to then take anything, knowing that as race leader he would definitely be tested the following day, would be rather stupid.

Hondo is optimistic that, "everything we have found out casts doubt [on the positive] rather than guilt, I think. But an athlete must practically prove his innocence and that is not so easy."

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