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Roberto Heras Refutes 2 Year Ban, Appeal
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/9/2006
Roberto Heras Refutes 2 Year Ban, Appeal
 

Roberto Heras Refutes 2 Year Ban, Appeal Imminent
"I will continue to look forward and will appeal at the appropriate authorities to prove my innocence."
"We need to study the decision carefully to see where we will take the appeal," The Heras Timeline, Vuelta 2005 G.C., Sex Lies and Video Tape.

Roberto Heras was banned for two years after testing positive for EPO and was stripped of his win at the 2005 Vuelta. The decision in itself declares Denis Menchov the winner; Carlos Sastre 2nd, and Francisco Mancebo 3rd.

The decision was announced by the Spanish Cycling Federation last nite.
Heras claims innocence in face of the charges and decision and plans on contesting the decision.
Heras: "I will continue to look forward and will appeal at the appropriate authorities to prove my innocence. I would also like to say that I will continue to cycle calmly and with enthusiasm, even though I can't compete in competitions and big tours."

Appeal
Jose Maria Buxeda said the Spanish rider had received notification of the sanction from the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) on Wednesday and would now decide whether to launch a legal appeal in Spain or take the case to the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"We need to study the decision carefully to see where we will take the appeal," Buxeda was quoted as saying by Spanish daily El Pais. "If we take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport it will take at least five months for a resolution."
Heras' lawyer emphasized the importance of where to appeal: "We will have to think about where to appeal. If we go to the TAS in Lausanne (Switzerland), we would have to wait at least five months for the verdict."

Roberto Heras Comments
Heras stated, "I cannot accept that my name, my dignity and that of all my family should be marred," he told the Europa Press news agency Thursday.
The positive test came when Heras won the penultimate stage of the 2005 Vuelta, his second stage victory on the way to what would have been his record fourth victory. A team suspension followed in November 7th after it was reported to the UCI. (Links to the timeline below)
In further comments Heras stated, "I never doped myself, I didn't do it during the Vuelta nor at any other time," Heras said after his second test was positive. "I've always won cleanly. I can't allow all my sacrifices to be trampled due to an error. I have to take the result on board, but I question it."
"I regret that none of the arguments that we put forward was analyzed with due technical and judicial depth," Heras said. Roberto also commented that he favored a zero tolerance for doping in sports.
"As everyone can imagine, it's one of the most difficult days of my career, this and the day when they told me I tested positive," he said. "But I don't want to forget the importance cycling has had for me since I started at 14."

This decision is a effectively a "career ender" for the 32 year old rider who once played the role of faithful domestique in the mountains for Lance Armstrong's while he rode on the US Postal Team.
The ban as applied to the Pro Tour Teams would only make it possible for Roberto Heras to ride for a UCI Continental Team after serving his two year ban.

Time has no mercy:
Sadly the machinations of appeal for this and other doping cases can drag on depriving a rider of swift justice in the prime of his career when any time lost can not be regained. There is no sign that CAS, the UCI or WADA will move forward to increase the efficiency/efficacy of the hearing process to shorten the time.
Tests Controversy and Innocence
Questions still surround the validation of the EPO test after reversals of decisions in the last year.
A decision still is waiting after a recent appeal by Tyler Hamilton who was banned in a decision on April 18th 2005, effectively putting Hamilton's career on hold at this point almost one year going through the appeals process with Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS)
Hamilton also protested his innocence and challenged the test procedures and their accuracy in his statements after the ban was announced. Heras and Hamilton are not alone in their statements of innocence in this regard and questioning tests used in the past for validity, accuracy or procedure.
Add to the list the most tested athlete in history, Lance Armstrong who was accused by a L'equipe writer of 6 year old blood samples from 1999 having tested positive in 2005. An investigation of which instigated  by the UCI has not at this time come to light.
"As we announced on Monday, August 29, 2005, the Union Cycliste Internationale (“UCI”) is undertaking an investigation into the recent press reports from France. The article published by the French newspaper L’Equipe concerned testing apparently conducted by a French laboratory of urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France. Our initial investigation has identified a great many issues and we are in the process of gathering the information we need. The UCI is currently unable to express any judgement on these cases, as it does not have sufficient information."
Sex, Lies and Videotape
Each of these accusations led to a firestorm of opinions in Cycling Forums and Tabloids around the world either claiming innocence or certainty of guilt, as is often the case, without any fair hearing of the accusations or a full review of the validity or correctness of the investigation or tests conducted.
One could at this point make many comments on the nature of scandals, tabloid journalism, human nature and it's propensity for believing rumors, or the fickleness of the fans or Justice. If history can give us any guidance it should be that the pursuit of  truth is neither served by the hyperbole of a tabloid press nor the certainty of every rumor having a basis in fact. Nor is the truth held by the strength of those with the loudest voices or the highest position, no matter their strident appeal. I can only opine that sports fans, Cycling, and competitors deserve improved and swifter resolution to these questions without bias and pre-cognition or predetermination of the final official outcome. VT

The Time Line:
11/07/2005 Heras Tests Positive in Vuelta Liberty Seguros/Wurth Suspension
11/23/2005 Heras B-Sample Test Controversy
11/25/2005 Roberto Heras' Contra-Analysis Positive for EPO - Updated
UCI Statement on 11/28/2005
Other items of interest:

Interview with Doping Hunter Professor Frank Delbeke
Reflections on Dick Pound
One of the brighter items to come out of this debate was the novel "The Tour" by Dave Shields that examines the toll on the peloton of Doping and the accusations that swirl around the Sport.
Book Review : "The Tour" By Marty Jemison Retired Pro Rider.
Debate or discuss this and other cycling items on the Daily Peloton Forums.

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The New/Corrected 2005 Vuelta Espana G.C.
1   Menchov, Denis Rus Rab 82:27:31
2   Sastre, Carlos Esp Csc a :17
3   Mancebo, Francisco Esp Iba a :21
4   Garcia Quesada, Carlos Esp Ecv a 4:06
5   Plaza, Ruben Esp Ecv a
6   Sevilla, Oscar Esp Tmo a
7   Danielson, Tom Usa Dsc
8   Ardila, Mauricio Col Dvl
9   Mercado, Juan Miguel Esp Qst
10 Sanchez, Samuel Esp Eus

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The Tour: A Book Review by Marty Jemison

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