Cyclingnews has gathered information that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is in the process of appealing a case against American cyclist Phillip Zajicek. Cyclingnews also understands that the American was cleared of purchasing EPO from the Shandong Kexing Bioproducts company in a hearing that took place last Autumn.
"I can confirm that the Zajicek case is being appealed," a source who is close to the case, told Cyclingnews. "They say they have a stronger case now. I provided USADA with information about him."
Cyclingnews contacted Zajicek on Tuesday and were told, "I don't have any comment. There's no story."
Last Autumn Joe Papp confirmed to Cyclingnews that (USADA) were investigating possible doping violations stemming from sales of EPO and HGH that he facilitated on behalf of the Shandong Kexing Bioproducts company.
Purchases of the illegal performance-enhancing drugs were made by up to 187 international athletes from a variety of sports, including cycling, from September 2006 to September 2007. American cyclist Jonathan Chodroff was the first and so far only professional cyclist to face a sanction, receiving a two year suspension from USADA. Chodroff admitted to purchasing the products. Several masters riders have also been handed suspensions in relation to the case.
The transactions took place with Papp as an intermediary between his sportsman clients and the Chinese sellers of the Eposino-brand of EPO and Jintropin HGH.
Papp confirmed to Cyclingnews that he was in Denver, Colorado on September 14th to give testimony in a hearing, and he said as much via Twitter, writing in the early-morning hours of the 15th: "Gnite from Denver, peeps. Remember - speed kills, EPO works, but doping isn't worth the long term negative consequences..."
Papp declined to confirm whether the inquiry targeted any of his clients, though he did reveal that he expected a ruling on the case before the start of the World Championships in Australia.
However, Cyclingnews has learned from sources that the athlete who had requested the hearing was Phillip Zajicek. The American was not sanctioned and was cleared at the hearing, but the case was not made public.
"I was in Colorado for an anti doping hearing but I can't say who that was for," Papp told Cyclingnews at the time. "I can't provide any detail on what the hearing was for. I will say I was there though."
Cyclingnews attempted to contact Zajicek at the time but he was unable to comment.
Cyclingnews were able to contact Zajicek's attorney, Michael Rutherford, who is also based in Colorado.
"Even if I knew I wouldn't be able to comment on that. Hypothetically if I was to know I wouldn't be able to comment on that. I couldn't comment one way or another," he told Cyclingnews.
Another source close to the investigation revealed that Papp was not speaking about Duane Dickey, though the Minnesota-based rider who recently accepted a lifetime-ban from sport also appeared on Papp's customer list.
USADA were unwilling to comment on this story and were unwilling to confirm that the original hearing took place when Cyclingnews contacted them this week.
The first stage of any appeal would involve an independent review board which would recommend how to proceed, although these can be bypassed if necessary with USADA going straight to an AAA (American Arbitration Association) North American hearing. Then there is the opportunity to appeal to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), which would be the final binding decision on the case.
USADA would look at the evidence at the time of the hearing and if any new evidence was involved to determine if the facts were applied fairly and from there decide whether to bring the case or appeal.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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