In the last hour Franco Pellizotti has been cleared to ride by the Italian Olympic commission. It ruled that his bio passport presents insufficient information to secure a ban. The indication is that whilst the passport may suspicious variations in blood values, this is not conclusive proof of doping.
|The UCI thought they had him by the long and curlies
It is a major blow for the UCI’s flagship bio passport scheme. The idea of monitoring various parameters in a rider to allows the authorities to look out for tell-tale changes in a rider’s blood values. Indeed big changes were deemed not just alarm bells but evidence for prosecution under the anti-doping code.
|An win for you-know-who
Pellizotti was a cherry-picked case. There were others who presented very suspicious data but the UCI went ahead and announced only those cases were it thought there was a very likely case. It wanted to establish jurisprudence with what they believed “slam dunk” evidence, establishing a series of prosecutions and bans as a means to tackling other cases. But CONI has now rejected this and of course the Slovenian authorities also let Tadej Valjavec return as well.
I expect an appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport. It might seem like this tribunal is a second home for UCI officials right now but this is a moment where they will gladly seize the opportunity to appeal. Indeed WADA is likely to support the UCI in this process. The UCI are already appealing the Slovenian ruling on Valjavec.
But these appeals take time. It is worrying for the scheme if what the UCI’s medical staff believe to the most nailed-on cases are being rejected. Don’t write the scheme off yet but what was hoped to be an open and shut case is now proving to be a major headache.