A former Trek-Segafredo rider has appeared in court for a milestone doping ban appeal.
Portuguese rider André Cardoso is publicly challenging his four-year suspension for EPO use at the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport in Switzerland, NBC Sports reports.
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Open court hearings, where press and observers are free to are attend, are rare for the CAS and Cardoso is believed to be the first cyclist to opt for a public appeal.
The CAS reformed its rules to allow more scrutiny in 2018, with Chinese swimmer Sun Yang becoming the first open-door case after the change. Yang denies any wrongdoing.
The 35-year-old is appealing a ban imposed by the UCI after he tested positive for EPO on the eve of the 2017 Tour de France, where he was due to support Alberto Contador’s general classification ambitions.
Carodoso tested positive for the banned blood booster in an out-of-competition test on June 18, 2017, and was provisionally suspended the day before the Tour.
Then in November 2018, the UCI announced that Cardoso would be banned for four years.
In a lengthy Facebook post, he vowed to appeal the ban saying: “I’m doing my best to control my anger, but I’m totally disappointed with the confirmation.
“The fact that I know that this has caused grief to my family, friends and teammates makes the situation even worse, because I feel responsible for their anguish, even though I have done nothing wrong.”
According to reports, the appeal has been complicated as the backup sample Cardoso provided to anti-doping testers did not match the original sample that tested positive.
Cardoso’s lawyer, Yasin Patel, said: “He is effectively having to disprove something that they [the UCI] can’t prove.
“Uncertainty has to benefit the athlete and not the governing body.”
An expert witness for the UCI claimed the positive test was “crystal clear.”
Cardoso, who began his career in 2006, rode for Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale team at WorldTour level between 2014 and 2016, before moving to Trek at the start of the 2017 season.
He won one race in his career before the ban, stage 10 of the Volta a Portugal in 2011, where he finished second overall.