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Two Year Bans for Pellizotti and Caucchioli in Biopassport Cases

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Franco Pellizotti loses his appeal in biopassport case. Photo:Getty The sports arbitration court (CAS-TAS) in Lausanne announced their decision today in the biopassport cases of Franco Pellizotti and Pietro Caucchioli. Both Pellizotti and Caucchioli will serve two year bans as a consequence of this decision. Maybe it was the hair? Caucchioli will serve two years with a start date of 18 June 2009, when his Lampre team fired him and he stopped competing. Pellizotti's ban dates from 3 May 2010 and the Italian rider will lose all results from 7 May 2009. Pellizotti finished third in the Giro d'Italia in 2009 and won the mountains classification at the Tour de France. Today's decision wipes those results from the record book. The court has not yet released the full text of the decisions. Only a summary is currently available, but both decisions represent significant support for the UCI's biopassport monitoring program.

In the Caucchioli case, the rider appealed to the arbitrators after receiving a two year ban from the Italian anti-doping tribunal. Between 2008 and 2009, the UCI had examined samples from the rider and in June 2009, the organization notified him that they had found evidence of blood doping. Lampre suspended Caucchioli and the Italian authorities soon followed with a two year ban from competition. Caucchioli filed an appeal and argued that faulty lab work had influenced the results of the testing.

In their examination of the case, the court considered Caucchioli's arguments and the validity of the biopassport program. "After a minute examination, the TAS find that the "irregularities" invoked by the rider could not have influeced the results," explains today's summary. The decision also found that variations in the rider's hemoglobin levels could not have resulted from normal physiological changes. The court concluded that these biological changes confirmed blood doping. Banhammer! Caucchioli will be eligible to race on 19 June 2011.

In the Pellizotti case, the Italian anti-doping authorities intially decided to clear him. Though CONI recommended a two year sanction, the final decision from the Italian sports tribunal disagreed. They found that the passport anomalies were not sufficient to confirm doping, and Pellizotti received no sanction. The UCI filed an appeal with the arbitration court. In a confusing twist, Pellizotti also filed an appeal to recover legal fees and lost wages.

The arbitration court ruled forthrightly that Franco Pellizotti committed a doping offense and that the biopassport values confirmed blood doping. By today's decision, the court imposed a two year ban, dating from 3 May 2010. The rider began an provisional suspension on that date. The court also ruled that Pellizotti loses his results back to the date of the offense, in this case 7 May 2009. Consequently, he loses his third place in the 2009 Giro d'Italia and his mountains jersey at the 2009 Tour de France. Carlos Sastre, then riding for Cervélo, placed fourth in the 2009 Giro. Last, but not least, the court ruled that Pellizotti must pay the UCI €115,000 in fines. Pellizotti will be eligible to race on 4 May 2012.

A summary of the two decisions is at TAS-CAS.org (pdf).