Date Prisa! The rules behind the Contador case

Date Prisa is “hurry up” in Spanish. Whilst the investigation into Contador’s case requires detailed examination, there are rules to ensure this does not drag on for too long. These state that the Spanish Federation has to keep the UCI updated on what is happening and above all, that the case “must be completed within one month” of the date the UCI notified the RFEC that it has been tasked with reviewing the case. Any delay sees the Spanish having to pay 5,000 Swiss Francs a week.

Duration of the proceedings
280. The proceedings before the hearing panel of the License-Holder’s National Federation must be completed within 1 (one) month from the time limit set for the dispatch of the summons. The National Federation shall be penalized by the disciplinary commission, incurring a fine of CHF 5000 for each week’s delay without prejudice to the obligation to complete proceedings as fast as possible.

The UCI informed the RFEC on 8 November 2010 so we are now already close to a month past the December deadline. We don’t know if the UCI is demanding payment for the time extension, it would be interesting to know if they enforce their own rules. Nevertheless the rules permit the case to continue, they simply stipulate that the RFEC has to pay for the delay.

However if the delays stretch into February then there’s a rule that allows the UCI to seize the Court of Arbitration for Sport and task this body with reviewing the matter. This is clearly a drastic measure and would only add to the delays since the CAS would have to start from the beginning, sifting through the paperwork and interviewing the parties involved. Here’s the rule in full.

281. If the completion of the hearing is delayed beyond three months, the UCI may elect to bring the case directly to a single arbitrator from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), acting as a first instance tribunal. The case shall be handled in accordance with the Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal procedure without reference to any time limit for appeal. The License-Holder’s National Federation shall be summoned to participate in the proceedings and shall bear all costs.

Procedural rules govern the process and the delays are no mystery given the stakes are high. Yet the same rules are also arithmetic in their clarity: positive A and B samples equals a doping offence and a consequent ban of two years. The rules do obviously allow a rider a get out but they are very strict.

295. Where a Rider or Rider Support Personnel can establish how a Specified Substance entered his body or came into his possession and that such Specified Substance was not intended to enhance the Rider’s sport performance or mask the use of a performance-enhancing substance, the period of Ineligibility for a first violation found in article 293 shall be replaced with the following: at a minimum, a reprimand and no period of Ineligibility from future Events, and at a maximum, two (2) years of Ineligibility. To justify any elimination or reduction, the License-Holder must produce corroborating evidence in addition to his word which establishes to the comfortable satisfaction of the hearing panel the absence of an intent to enhance sport performance or mask the use of a performance enhancing substance. The License-Holder’s degree of fault shall be the criterion considered in assessing any reduction of the period of Ineligibility.

To summarise that rule, Contador has to establish (and not merely suggest) how the banned substance appeared. His word is not enough,”corroborating evidence” is required. Merely blaming a steak is not going to stand up.

  • As a back-story to the Contador case it will be interesting to see whether the UCI applies its own rules in relation to the timing of the matter, fines and more. Given the sensitivity of the case you’d imagine that every rule would be scrupulously applied to the letter. Then again, this is pro cycling.