Fighting on after the UCI served him with a provisional suspension on Saturday, Roman Kreuziger has today confirmed that he will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Blasting what he said was ‘much misleading and imprecise information’ published in the media of late, the Tinkoff Saxo rider insisted he had not broken any rules and said that he wants to return to competition as soon as possible. He said that he intends to take part in the Vuelta a España.
“I am deeply frustrated by this current situation, which makes it impossible for me to do my job and ride my bike,” he stated, confirming a CAS appeal. “I’m not a cheat, and I have not committed any doping offence. Experts confirm that there is no evidence of any alleged anti-doping rule violation in my case.
“This has been going on since June 2013, and still there is no formal case opened against me. Despite this I’m now provisionally suspended. I sincerely hope that this situation can be resolved quickly and not turned into a political matter,” Roman Kreuziger says.
“I am grateful to my team, Tinkoff-Saxo, for their support, and it helps me to know they trust me and have faith in me based on our working relationship and the expert opinions on my case.”
Kreuziger has been in the headlines since the end of June, when he and his team disclosed that he was under investigation for alleged biological passport irregularities. The Czech rider had been due to ride the Tour de France but was instead sidelined by his team, who later said the decision was taken in order to avoid negative publicity at the race plus extra stress for the riders on the squad.
Last week Tinkoff Saxo stated that, in the absence of a ruling by the UCI, it had decided to allow Kreuziger to return to competition and to compete in the Tour of Poland. Team owner Oleg Tinkov added on Twitter that he would take action of his own against the governing body.
“We’ll sue #UCI for non-disclosure that @Roman86_K had bio passport violations in 09/10 when we signed him in 2012.They knew, and hide this?,” he stated on Friday. “I lost millions of euro for not knowing this issue once the contract was cleared by UCI. Now, they have to pay us big bucks for this.”
The UCI responded on Saturday by saying that it was handed the rider a provisional sanction. This action blocked his return in Poland and suggests the case against the rider is at an advanced stage.
In today’s statement released on behalf of Kreuziger, it is said that he ‘strongly refutes’ the reported decision by three experts from the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) that he had probably doped, based on biological passport readings from March 2011 until August 2011 and April 2012 until the end of the 2012 Giro d’Italia.
“His blood profile data at no time exceeded the limit values set by the UCI itself, but only approached the limits on one occasion, which was caused by extreme dehydration after (an unsuccessful) mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia 2012,” said the statement, which appears to have been written by a lawyer or agent.
“Three independent experts contacted by Mr. Kreuziger’s management on the basis of anonymity confirmed independently of one another that the assumption of the CADF expert panel is wrong.”
The statement said that the rider and the Tinkoff Saxo team had decided that he should not ride the Tour de France so that he could focus fully on his legal defence. It said that his subsequent decision to return to competition for the Tour of Poland led to a near-immediate announcement by the UCI that he would not be allowed race.
“Mr. Kreuziger and his legal counsel strongly oppose the UCI decision, which has no basis in the UCI legislation, allowing imposition of a provisional suspension only in cases of a positive A sample, which is not Mr. Kreuziger’s case,” notes the statement.
“Other preliminary measures can only be imposed when there exists a risk that the results of a race might be affected by the alleged doping activity of the rider (it’s hard to imagine how the 2014 race results could be affected by a blood profile finding from 2012?), and only after providing the rider an opportunity to deliver a written submission – which did not happen.”
Meanwhile anti-doping expert Robin Parisotto has told CyclingTips that delays in the biological passport case are not unusual and are due to the complexity of the process plus the need to give the athlete a chance to defend themselves. An interview with him can be read here.