The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Wednesday that it is not legally competent to judge an appeal made by the Swiss anti-doping authorities about an investigation into possible banned drug use involving Jan Ullrich.
However, CAS also says a second appeal brought against Ullrich by the UCI involving exactly the same case is legal for them to judge, and that their verdict on its consequences for the 1997 Tour de France winner is expected within the next six weeks.
The first appeal came about after the Swiss anti-doping authorities - Antidoping Schweiz - opened up an investigation in 2009 concerning Ullrich and suspected doping. (Ullrich is German but raced with a Swiss licence during the very last part of his career, in late 2005, before effectively retiring in the summer of 2006.)
The investigation was then formally archived by the Swiss Olympic Disciplinary Committee in 2010. Anti-Doping Schweiz then appealed to CAS that it be re-opened, who have today declared themselves legally incompetent to judge it.
The reason why CAS are not able to judge it would appear to be a legal loophole. CAS pointed out in their statement that Anti-Doping Schweiz, which was created in 2008, did not exist at the time that Ullrich had a Swiss licence, in 2005. By the time Anti-Doping Schweiz did exist, Ullrich had already stopped racing.
The verdict effectively means the appeal by Anti-Doping Schweiz over the investgiation will almost certainly end up being shunted into a legal siding and forgotten.
However, appeal number two, CAS say - in which the UCI also appealed against the Swiss Olympic Committee decision to close the file on Ullrich's possible doping past and asked for a verdict from CAS should they find him guilty of doping - is far from being a dead duck.
Instead, CAS have declared themselves legally competent to produce a verdict on it, and the verdict, will be published early in 2012. In other words, Ullrich is free of one appeal, but he is not out of the legal woods yet.
Ullrich has yet to comment on the latest developments in his case, which kicked off following his involvement in the Operacion Puerto anti-doping probe in Spain in 2006 - the same affair which spelled curtains for his career. A statement from the German is possibly expected later today.
Jan Ullrich returns
April 2008: Ullrich buys his way out of trouble
April 2007: DNA tests confirm Ullrich link to Operaction Puerto
July 2006: T-Mobile sack Ullrich and Sevilla
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