February 01, 2005
Phonak in for ProTour, Tour de France
The Court of Arbitration for Sport today ruled for Phonak, which had appealed its exclusion from the new ProTour, levied after Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Perez, and Oscar Camenzind all tested positive for drugs in 2004.
Phonak license is limited to two years instead of the customary four. Because all ProTour teams automatically qualify for the three grand Tours, Phonak will participate in the Tour de France, as well.
Interestingly, CAS says it is granting the license partly because only Oscar Camenzind's positive could be used as the basis for denying Phonak a license when the UCI did so in November. Because both Hamilton and Perez have pledged to defend themselves against the allegations, CAS treated Phonak as innocent until proven guilty:
...the cases of Tyler Hamilton and of Santiago Perez could not constitute, on the date of 12 November 2004, doping cases making the two riders and the Phonak Team liable for doping infractions. Now, Hamilton and Perez have decided to defend themselves in order to try to prove their innocence. While respecting the will of the UCI to be strict in the fight against doping, the CAS arbitrators have considered that it was not possible, at this stage, to remove the Phonak team from the Pro Tour on the sole basis of doping suspicions concerning the two riders and before knowing the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings regarding them.
A more cynical man might read Hamilton's long silence as a strategy to leave his (and Santi Perez') guilt in question long enough for the team to get a ProTour license.
This is certainly a boost for the world's fastest Mennonite, Floyd Landis, who seems likely to lead the team in one or more grand tours.
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