Roman Kreuziger back to racing, but for how long?

Suspended by the UCI for anomalies in his bio-passport, Roman Kreuziger of Tinkoff-Saxo Bank was exonerated by his (Czech) Olympic Federation and starts Milan – Turin today

It’s a story that has clear echoes of that of his Tinkoff-Saxo team mate (also riding Milan–Turin), Alberto Contador. Suspended due to biological passport anomalies, Roman Kreuziger was cleared on appeal by the Czech Olympic Committee (CAC) last week and lines up to race in Milan-Turin today, his first race since the Tour of Switzerland in June this year.

While the cycling world awaits news of an appeal by the UCI to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) over the Czech Olympic Committee’s decision, Kreuziger is racing again. As with the Contador 2010 clenbuterol saga, should Kreuziger win or finish on the podium, his results stand to be stripped in the light of a successful UCI appeal.

To recount: 28-year-old Kreuziger was informed of the biological passport anomalies by the UCI in May, pre-emptively pulled from the Tinkoff team a week before the Tour de France and then suspended by the UCI days before he was due to start the Tour of Poland in August. The case has been additionally controversial – as well as chaotic – since the alleged anomalies in his blood profile dated to 2011-2012 when he was riding for Astana.

The Czech Olympic authority judged last week that Kreuziger “did not violate any anti-doping rules” and that the dubious blood values used to convict Kreuziger of bio-passport abnormalities “did not exceed the so-called basal (extreme) values. The curve of its value in the passport never exceeds the upper or lower limit of the allowed values for which it was calculated,” said Jan Štovíček, Kreuziger’s lawyer.

Whether or not the UCI intends to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport still remains to be seen – the UCI has 30 days (from September 22) to appeal – but it’s unlikely this case is over yet and the potential for damaging the credibility of the bio-passport is significant.

In light of this case, UCI president Brian Cookson’s desire to set up a doping authority independent of national federations and the UCI would seem to be one way forward.

Cookson and the UCI are keen to see a single, global authority taking control to homologate a universal system of rules, punishments and appeals procedures. However, while the UCI Board agreed to this in principal at a meeting in Ponferrada, the details of how this would work, who would fund it, who it would have jurisdiction over, where national and Olympic Federations would fit in as well as when it might come into being were all unclear.

What is clear is that it won’t be set up in time to resolve the Kreuziger case.