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Legal expert rates Contador's chances of a successful appeal

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Alberto Contador enters a press conference on February 7, 2012.

Alberto Contador enters a press conference on February 7, 2012. (Image credit: AFP)
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Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans at the start in Palma

Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans at the start in Palma (Image credit: AFP Photo)

Alberto Contador has less than 30 days to appeal the CAS decision that handed him a two-year suspension doping. However, one legal expert has pointed out that such a move has little chance of success. Jonathan Walters, a Solicitor with the Sports & Media Group at Charles Russell LLP told Cyclingnews that Contador has little in the way of legal precedent to back up an appeal.

If Contador does decide to appeal, he must lodge his document with the Swiss Federal court within 30 days of the CAS ruling. However, the chance of the court even hearing his appeal is limited as typically courts of such nature refrain from intervening in sports case.

“It all depends on if Contador has the appetite to continue, but his reaction in terms of maintaining his innocence was what I expected from yesterday’s press conference.” Walters said.

“There’s only one option with appealing and that’s to refer it to the Swiss Federal Court, but what CAS says will typically stand.”

“There are limited circumstances in which he could appeal and conceivably he could be successful, although statistically that doesn’t look very likely as there’s only been one semi-successful appeal to the Swiss Federal Court from CAS.”

That was in the case involving Guillermo Cañas. The former tennis player was banned by his sport’s governing body, the ATP. CAS reduced his ban in the first instance but Cañas went to the Swiss court, which ruled that CAS had not presided over the ruling fairly. CAS was forced to submit a new panel and hear the case again, although it came to the same ruling.

Walters wasn’t surprised by the two-year ban Contador was given but did point out that he was taken aback by the reasoning behind the protracted CAS decision. The panel’s reasoning hinged on the probability that Contador ingested a supplement that carried the clenbuterol. However, no evidence was revealed to back this claim. The Spaniard argued that the substance was from tainted meat while part of the WADA/UCI argument raised the possibility of blood doping. CAS avoided both these arguments.

“What was a bit surprising was that the UCI tried to suggest its blood doping theory. I think that made it a lot more complicated. Normally a sports governing body doesn’t need to say why the substance got there, usually it’s up to the athlete. In a way it made a rod for its own back, and that’s why it was so protracted.”

“The supplement decision is very odd because it wasn’t really a big factor in either party’s submission. It was mentioned in the UCI submission as a possibility but CAS seems to have come up with that on its own. It has looked at blood doping and the meat and it has said both are really unlikely and gone with a process of deduction that points to the supplement. It is odd that it has landed at the conclusion, but there is logic to it.”

Daniel Benson is the Managing Editor at Cyclingnews. Based in the UK, he coordinates the global coverage for the website. Having joined Cyclingnews in April 2008, he has covered several Tour de France, the Spring Classics, and the London Olympic Games in 2012.

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